The unofficial start of the summer travel season is here, with airlines hoping to avoid the chaos of last year and travelers looking for ways to save a few bucks on pricey airfare and hotel rooms.
Some travelers say they will settle for fewer trips than they hoped to take, or will drive instead of fly. Others are finding different sacrifices to save money.
Stephanie Hanrahan thought she would save money by planning ahead for her daughter’s birthday trip to Disney World in Florida. Instead, she ended up costing the same as the Dallas-area family’s trip for four to California last summer, so now her husband and her son are staying home.
“We had to grit our teeth,” Hanrahan, a writer and speaker who also runs a nonprofit organization, said as she and her daughter Campbell waited for their flight last week at Dallas Love Field.
The number of people passing through US airports reached pandemic-era highs last weekend, and those records will almost certainly be broken over the Memorial Day or Memorial Day holiday.
AAA predicts that 37 million Americans will drive at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from their homes this weekend, an increase of more than 2 million since Memorial Day last year, but still below pre-August numbers. the pandemic in 2019. The Transportation Security Administration expects to test 10 million travelers between Friday and Monday, 14% more than the holiday in 2022 and slightly more than in 2019.
With more travel comes more expenses. The average rate for a US hotel room last week was $157 a night, up from $150 the same week last year, according to hotel data provider STR. And the average daily rate for other short-term rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo rose to $316 last month, up 1.4% from a year ago, according to AirDNA, which tracks the industry.
There’s some good news for drivers, though: The national average for a gallon of regular gas was $3.56 midweek, down from $4.60 this time last year, according to AAA. Renting a car is also cheaper than a year ago, when some popular destinations ran out of vehicles. Travel company Expedia said larger inventories allow them to rent more cars at lower prices.
For air travelers, airline industry officials say carriers have fixed the problems that contributed to a spike in flight cancellations and delays last summer, when 52,000 flights were canceled between June and August. The airlines have hired some 30,000 workers since then, including thousands of pilots, and are using larger planes to reduce flights but not the number of seats.
“I don’t have the arrogance to tell you exactly what the summer is going to be like, but we’ve prepared and have a solid plan for it,” said Andrew Watterson, chief operating officer for Southwest Airlines, which struggled at times in the summer of 2022 and suffered an epic collapse around Christmas, canceling nearly 17,000 flights.
[Con información de The Associated Press]
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