Book your holiday flights now, travel experts say

Travel experts are predicting a busy holiday travel season. They estimate Americans will be flying to visit family and friends in much greater numbers than last year, thanks in large part to rising vaccinations and lower infection rates in many states. 

Major airlines are already starting to add more flights to meet demand, said Clint Henderson, senior news editor for the online travel guide The Points Guy.

"We're seeing an explosion in demand. In fact, prices are high and climbing already," Henderson said. "The domestic demand is almost at pre-pandemic levels, and airlines are adding tons of flights, especially to warm-weather destinations." 

Travelers should be ready for possible disruptions in service like we saw recently with Southwest Airlines.

"It's been a bit of a mess for a few airlines a few times this year, mostly attributable to staff shortages," Henderson said. "We expect that to continue to be a problem as we get toward the end of the year, especially for airlines like Southwest and American, where the pilots' unions have been irritated over vaccine mandates by the airlines."

The cost of airline tickets is expected to continue going up.

And although Delta Air Lines posted a $1.2 billion profit for the third quarter, the airline warned that rising fuel prices and higher labor costs could mean higher fares.

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"Normally we say wait and see what might happen to prices but with fuel costs going up and shortages of pilots, crew, flight attendants and seats — because, remember, not all airlines are fully back up to pre-pandemic capacity — we're saying that you should book right now," Henderson said.

If you have any unused airline miles now is the time to use them, especially if your flight gets canceled you will still be able to rebook using miles without losing any money.