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How to alleviate the headaches of holiday travel

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The kids aren’t even back to school yet and we already need to talk about your holiday travel plans.

The time to book is now if it’s not too late already.

The picture isn’t pretty. We’ve all been seeing the issues the airlines are already having. Well, there is no sign it’s suddenly going to get better in November and December.

Want to fly over the river and through the woods to see grandma for Thanksgiving?

“It is a little late actually for planning at that time over holiday periods,” said Joe Weigler of Shadyside Travel.

“The longer you wait, the worse it’ll get because I don’t think you’re going see an increase. The capacity is very minimal by the time that the holidays roll around,” Weigler added.

AAA Travel’s Marita Williams agreed.

“If you’re only doing air, we’re good now,” Williams said.

Because we don’t have to get any closer to the holidays for there to be an issue.

“When those flights start selling, and they’re three quarters, halfway full, the rates are going to go up. They’re not going to come back down,” Williams said.

And it’s harder to get to Pittsburgh’s most popular destinations, like Orlando.

“We may have used to have seven or eight flights a day; we may be down now to four or five flights per day,” Williams said.

How much confidence should you have even if you have a ticket?

“They have to get you there but it might not be in the timeframe that you want,” said Williams.

“I wouldn’t be at the point of saying be leery because, despite the high number of cancellations, there are still a lot of flights that did fly and a lot of above-on-time or minimal delays,” Weigler did mention.

But the airlines are scrambling and Williams said don’t be surprised if between now and your holiday flight, the airline changes your schedule.

So, are there ways to have a better chance of getting what you want at this point?

Being flexible in your travel days and even hours will help, and be careful what you are buying. Is it refundable, what protections do you have?


Tips for planning your holiday travel

03:06

Pumpkin spice latte is coming, and Halloween candy is on store shelves, so it’s the perfect time to talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

In fact, if you haven’t made your holiday travel plans already, you are up against a deadline of a dwindling supply of seats.

First and foremost, just know there are probably more backsides wanting to go where you’re going than tight airline seats to get you all there.

Holiday travel tip No. 1?

“If you’re planning to do travel during the holiday period, do it tomorrow. Today, tomorrow, as soon as possible,” Weigler adds.

To avoid the issues of canceled or delayed flights, Williams said to plan to rise before the sun and get on that first flight of the day.

“Because, chances are, your flight is going to be not so much delayed because it’s already going to be there and ready. If you have a 6 am flight, chances are it’s not coming in from anywhere else that’s the start of that aircraft’s day ,” Williams said.

But those flights fill first and Weigler said for a better chance of getting a seat and for a potentially maybe cheaper price, look towards traveling in the midday or evening hours.

“If you can vary your times, you’re going to have a better chance of getting what you want,” Weigler said.

Both Joe and Marita said you might consider traveling on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

“You’ll find a lot less traffic obviously for obvious reasons on those days. And you might get better availability as well,” Williams added.

Additionally, book your rental car now.

“They’re going to have to pay a lot more for car rentals than they ever did in the past,” Weigler said.

“That price is going to go up because they still have a shortage of cars,” said Williams.

And while hotels are a bit more available, the prices are not going to be in a holiday spirit.

“They are trying to make up for lost revenue like everybody else. And their prices are generally higher now than they have been,” Weigler said.

And in the current climate, Williams said travel insurance is a smart investment.

“It’s not really that expensive when you consider what you’re putting out for your vacation. You want to protect that investment.”

If you do your own booking, read everything carefully, and using a professional can help find the best deals and give you someone to call if there’s a problem.

With all the cancelations and delays lately, it seems like it’s just very unsettling to even consider traveling with the family.

Williams said if your flight gets canceled, go get in the line at the counter to rebook, but call the airline at the same time. You’ve got a good chance of getting an agent on the phone before you get your turn in line.