Wednesday AM December 17th, 2008
by: Ed Mayberry, December 17, 2008 5:12:00 am
The Air Transport Association of America says the number flying on U.S. airlines over the winter holidays will plunge nine per cent from a year ago, when 47 million people flew. Travelocity's Genevieve Brown says domestic airlines have cut capacity compared to the same period last year, so planes will be at or near capacity, even with the decline in passengers.
"The airports themselves will be a little bit quieter because fewer people will be traveling. Along those same lines, don't expect airplanes to be empty, because airlines have cut their capacity about nine per cent for the December holidays. Passenger numbers are down about nine per cent, too, so it all evens out in the end. And we should expect that the planes will be flying very full this holiday travel season, and the Air Transport Association is expecting 43 million passengers to travel by air the 21 days surrounding Christmas — about two million passengers per day."
Brown says there are several things you can do to save on airline costs.
"Flexible dates — that is key to saving money, whether you're traveling this December or anytime of the year. Even just adjusting your dates by a day or two can save big bucks. Now, with the airline capacity cuts, there are fewer flights, and therefore fewer direct flights. If you're willing to take (a)connection — it may be a little more inconvenient — you can generally save money. One other thing you want to consider — alternate airports. It's as easy as checking a box when you're searching for your airfare, and traveling to the airport that is going to give you the best price."
Air carriers expect December 19th and December 27th to be the busiest travel days.
Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.