Book your summer travel early; don’t wait for huge sales. This was the advice just a few months ago as airfares were rising. Demand was expected to be high and seats limited. Now the major airlines appear ready to give up some ground to penny-pinching travelers. This is shaping up to be the most expensive summer ever for air travel. Fares could surpass the previous record average of $359 in 2008. But the airlines are growing nervous that higher fares will drive away passengers. So those who dared to follow the traditional guidelines for booking summer flights are about to be rewarded with lower fares. According to online travel site Travelocity, the so-called sweet spot for booking is generally six to seven weeks ahead of a major holiday weekend. By this model, airfares for July 4, for example, should fall starting around May 19 and go back up around May 25. After that, those fares should remain fairly steady until a week before the holiday. Then the airlines are likely to hit procrastinators with a 10% hike. This rule applies to Labor Day and other heavy travel weekends this summer as well. Those who waited should do better than those who booked early for travel to many popular destinations, says Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity. Travelocity crunched airfare data from the last four years and found that booking more than seven weeks ahead of the Fourth of July cost travelers an average of $348 round trip. Those who waited until six weeks out paid an average of $326.
Today’s poll question: Have you made your summer vacation travel plans yet?