The up and coming holiday season may not be so merry for some holiday travellers. Between the overcrowded planes, and the additional fees for just about everything you could imagine, it’s definitely not the best time of year to be in the air.
“It will be worse than last year – fewer seats, higher (passenger loads) and higher fares and fees,” says Bob Harrell, of airline and travel consulting firm Harrell Associates.
When the economy took a hard nose dive last year, the airlines cut holiday travel fares by drastic proportions. Additionally, airlines reduced the number of flights they offered, and began using small aircrafts as a way to reduce the risk of flying with lots of empty seats.
An analysis by OAG-Official Guide revealed there were 3.3% fewer seats available on domestic flights in November and December of last year. These figures aren’t promising for holiday travellers. Especially when you consider that the number of seats available for the same period in 2007 was 9.7% higher than in 2008.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.co, commented that the number of planes in the air today is roughly the same as the number of planes in the air in 1999. He likened the current level of flight availability to a decade of lost growth for the industry.
Because there are so few seats available, holiday travellers may find themselves scrambling to find seats, and some may not find them at all. Fewer flights also mean that missing a connecting flight may mean a long wait to get another one. This could be real bad news for travellers that are flying in groups.
As George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com pointed out, “You may not get a seat for days.” This could prove to have disastrous consequences for any plans that travellers have of carving turkey with friends, and spending time around the Christmas tree with family.
There are already enough things to worry about with regard to the holiday season. Wintery weather conditions, gift shopping, and trying to make ends meet can really put a damper on people’s holiday plans this year. For those travellers that are planning to take to the airways this holiday season, take care to give yourself plenty of time to book your flights and budget enough to cover your airfare.