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AAA shares tips on best time to book for summer
By AAA of Western and Central New York
The summer travel season is expected to surpass prepandemic numbers! In fact, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is bracing for what could be a record summer for air travel. AAA has reported a significant increase in international travel bookings already this year. All of this – paired with staffing shortages, limited inventory, and recent flight disruptions – means that travelers need to plan ahead.
If travelers want their choice of options for their summer travels, now is the best time to book! AAA booking data shows demand is high this year, especially for international destinations. Waiting too long can result in limited inventory and sold-out cruises, tours or direct flights. For those who are flexible with travel dates and destinations, there could be some last-minute deals, but given higher demand this year, AAA advises booking summer vacations with plenty of time.
AAA recommendations: AAA’s message is not one of panic, but of preparation. Here’s what travelers should know:
√ Best time to book summer travel is now! Given high demand and reduced schedules, it’s worth booking as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have.
√ Some airlines are reducing flights in key areas like New York City this summer to accommodate for air traffic controller shortages.
√ Air prices are 20% to 30% higher this summer and could go up even more.
√ When booking, aim for the first morning flight. It’s more likely to depart on time, because mornings have less air traffic congestion and fewer weather delays – especially in the summer. Early flights also give you more flexibility if there is a delay or cancelation and you need to reschedule.
√ Reserve airport parking ahead of time to save time on your departure day.
√ With the TSA projecting prepandemic numbers this summer, it’s key to arrive at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights, three hours before international flights. Remember, international hubs will be extra packed with passengers this season.
√ Sign up for TSA PreCheck or Clear to speed up the security process.
√ Avoid checking a bag. Carry-on luggage allows you to be more flexible if there’s a delay or cancelation.
√ Make sure your phone is fully charged. Download the airline’s app to receive notifications, and use FlightAware to track your aircraft the day of departure.
√ Know your passenger rights. Read the airline’s “condition of carriage” online to understand how you are protected in case of delays, cancelations, and misconnections.
√ Have your confirmation number or record locator handy, in case there’s a delay or cancelation and you need to rebook quickly.
√ If you’re trying to reach the airline by phone, try their international numbers or rewards numbers, which can sometimes answer faster.
√ Weather is an “Act of God” – not the fault of the airline – and travelers are on their own to rebook flights. An advantage of having a travel agent is that they can help you with rebooking options.
√ If a flight is canceled due to what is in the control of the airline, like a mechanical issue, the airline is responsible for rebooking passengers and providing some amenities, like food or lodging. For entitlements, see the DOT website: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 862,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.