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Experts: Expect flight prices to skyrocket as demand for summer travel increases

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you’re planning a Memorial Day getaway, AAA urges travelers to plan their trip now.

AAA Travel booking data shows that Memorial Day flight, rental car, cruise and hotel bookings more than doubled from a year ago.

Higher demand means higher prices.

As for Memorial Day weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday), flights are about $160 more than last year, according to AAA.

AAA experts predict that the increased demand will continue into the summer travel season.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there that’s about to be released this summer,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

Travelers from Tampa International on Wednesday said they were already feeling the pinch.

“Last year I think we both flew under $200. This year it was just over 400. A really huge increase,” said Annette Rader. didn’t stop her and her family from traveling to Florida, instead they are finding other ways to cut expenses.

“Despite inflation and rising gas prices, people still want to travel,” Jenkins said.

AAA Airline Tickets – The Best (and Worst) Time to Book for Memorial Day

AAA booking data shows the best time to buy a plane ticket is about two weeks before Memorial Day, with travelers paying an average of $445 per ticket. However, travelers who wait to book Memorial Day week could end up paying almost double. Flights booked 28 to 60 days before the holiday cost an average of $470 each.

The most popular day of air travel is Friday. Memorial Day is the lightest. For the past few years, the cheapest day to fly for Memorial Day weekend has consistently been Saturday. This year, however, Saturday is the most expensive day to fly. Sunday offers the lowest airfare followed by Friday (an average price of $543 and $596, respectively).

“Given the high demand for travel this year, the best advice is to book your Memorial Day flights early,” Jenkins said. “While you can pay a little more money up front, you’ll have more flight options to choose from than those who wait a few weeks before the holidays.”

AAA also offers travelers the following tips:

  • Be flexible – where and when you travel – fly during off-peak hours/days, choose a hidden gem closer to home, or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and meals.
  • Book early – flights, hotels, tours, cruises, car rentals – the sooner the better to get the best rate and be sure to ask about discounts for prepayment. Something other than a travel agent can help navigate.
  • Travel with your bubble – small-group travel grew in popularity during the pandemic when many chose to vacation with people they were in close contact with. Consider going on a group trip to spread out the costs for things like activities and accommodation. If everyone is scattered, a travel agent can help manage the logistics.
  • Protect your investment – a key step in planning your trip is to purchase travel insurance. This provides a safety net in case the unexpected happens before or during your trip. This is another example where a travel agent is helpful. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can tell you which travel insurance policy is best for you.