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High gas prices, airfare costs deterring locals from holiday travel

Posted at 4:57 PM, Oct 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-17 22:35:31-04

High gas prices and expensive airline tickets may have thrown an extra wrench into your holiday travel plans.

Right now, average airfare prices for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel are the highest they have been in half a decade, and as a result, most locals we spoke to said they will be staying home for the holidays.

"Pretty much planning on staying here," said Marlene Davis, who lives in Grover Beach.

One Arroyo Grande resident said she wants to stay home for the holidays, adding that she travels back and forth from the East Coast regularly for work. She says staying home for the upcoming holiday season will be an escape from the increased costs.

According to travel group, Hopper, plane tickets for Thanksgiving travel this year are averaging $281 round trip, up 25% from last year. Meanwhile, the average prices for Christmas airfare are sitting at $435 round trip, up a staggering 55% from a year ago.

"You really want to try to book your Thanksgiving travel flights at least two weeks before the holiday. The closer you get to it, many routes will be sold out, and if you are going to a smaller city, you may not have as many options, as well as not as many options for direct flights," said Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for AAA Auto Club Southern California.

Shupe says as COVID restrictions have lessened over the past few months, his team of travel advisors has seen a spike in people making plans for their next trip.

"We know that travel is going to be big this holiday season but also throughout 2023. Our travel advisors here at the Auto Club are hearing from a lot of members who just want to get out there and see the world again," Shupe added. "The travel industry is bouncing back."

But as for some of the community members we spoke with, many say they are still in no rush to jump on any flights.

"You hear that the airlines are full during the holidays so people I guess bite the bullet and pay those prices, but no one that we are having for the holidays is flying in, that is for sure," admitted Arroyo Grande resident, Paul Benson.

Shupe also adds that even though gas prices remain high, traveling by vehicle is still the most economic way to get around.

Experts claim that despite major airlines rebuilding their passenger capacities this year, they still only have about 87% of the available seating they had back in 2019. They say this and inflation have contributed to the surge in airfare prices.