If you’re traveling for Christmas or New Year’s, there’s good news and bad news.
First the good news: According to the Air Transport Association, there will be about 1 million fewer fliers expected to travel between Dec. 17th and Jan. 6th. This will be the fewest since the 2005-06 holiday travel period. With fewer travelers, the crush at the airport may be less palpable. The busiest travel days are expected to be the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday after Christmas — Dec. 26 – 28.
Now for the bad news: Unfortunately for the roughly 41 million people who will be on planes, fewer fliers won’t translate into more space for carrying presents in overhead bins, nor will it improve the chance of finding an empty middle seat. The amount of seats available will be down 3% from last year’s holiday season, versus the 2.4% drop in expected passenger traffic. Seats are down about 13% from two years ago.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Earlier this week, Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline, raised its fee to fly with a child under the age of 2 on the parents lap. The airline now charges 25% of a full-priced ticket – where most other airlines charge approximately 10% on international flights. (Babies generally fly free on domestic flights.) Will other airlines follow? We’ll see.
- JetBlue is looking to better leverage the world’s largest social network (yep, Facebook) by launching a carefully crafted campaign to generate Facebook fan inflation. As if 60,000 fans weren’t enough (Yapta has a mere 992), the airline has kicked-off the “All-You-Can-Jet Fan Sweepstakes” where being a JetBlue fan could net you either (1) free round-trip tickets, (2) comped airfare and a vacation for you and three friends for 5 days for 4 nights, or even (3) unlimited free travel on JetBlue for a year. To become eligible, simply become a fan of JetBlue and submit a ballot via their JetBlue Sweeps Page tab. Fans can also enter daily for extra chances to win these prizes.
- Choice Hotels has announced a new bonus offer for stays during the next two months. Through February 18, 2010, members of the Choice Privileges program will earn triple airline miles or hotel points for the second and subsequent stays at Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, Ascend, MainStay Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge, and Rodeway Inn hotels. To earn the bonus, stays must be booked at choicehotels.com or by calling 1-800-4CHOICE. Advance registration is required. (Registering for the promotion automatically enters you into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a six-night Hawaiian vacation. No stay required.)
In early October, we noted that American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways added $10 surcharges to airfare for flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and for Jan. 2nd and 3rd – the busiest days for holiday travel. Well, let’s now make that $20 each way! Delta, American, United, US Airways and Northwest Airlines all announced that they have boosted their surcharge on some routes.
This could have a real financial impact for those traveling with large families during the holidays. For instance, a family of five would have to add $200 to their total cost of travel. That’s not insignificant. In fact, it may be enough to keep some people at home this year.
What do you think? Are these surcharges enough to sink your travel plans? Or will you be flexible around the holidays and travel on off-peak dates?
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Omni Hotels have launched a 72-hour sale for stays between Dec. 2 and Feb. 10, excluding New Year’s Eve. If you book by Thursday (11/5), you can get up to 40% off a room in cities such as Austin, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Diego, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston & Tucson. Of course, the offer is subject to availability and can not be combined with other special offers.
- Another day, another bird strike that diverts a plane. This time it was a Delta Air Lines flight from Phoenix bound for Salt Lake City that was forced to make an early landing after it was hit by a flock of birds. Airport authorities reported that the windshield of the plane was cracked, but nobody was injured. According to FAA records, there have been 600 bird strikes nationwide this year and bird strikes cause 600 million dollars in damage to aircraft every year.
- The state of Florida is suing online travel reservation companies over hotel taxes, the latest in a string of lawsuits nationwide claiming the sites owe local authorities millions of dollars. Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Expedia and Orbitz today, claiming they failed to pay Florida the full amount of taxes collected on hotel room rentals through their sites. Consumers are charged a rate when they book a room online, and the company later reimburses the hotels a lesser amount, allowing them to pocket service fees. The taxes are paid on that less expensive rate, prompting legal action by cities and states that claim they’re being cheated out of millions of dollars in tax dollars.