Don’t Want to Book a Holiday Flight? Festive Alternatives to Flying this Year

Many travelers planning their winter holiday vacations are not in a hurry to get back on airplanes. As airlines lay off employees and international flyers face the prospect of quarantines, many US travelers say they will limit holiday trips to places they can reach by car. Analysts looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays advise those who are willing to fly to book now—if the price is right—while terms are flexible. Airlines are making prices accessible and waiving fees for flight cancellations or changes.

American and Delta have extended their waivers to September 30. JetBlue’s waiver runs to October 15. The only carrier that does not charge a fee for ticket changes is Southwest.

“Customers are increasingly prioritizing flexibility in fares and their travel experience over anything else,” says Hayley Berg, economist at airfare prediction app Hopper. In mid-August, Hopper found airfares for Thanksgiving travel are 30 percent lower this year than they were at this time last year. The app said prices of domestic December Holiday flights have fallen 25 percent compared to 2019 fares. This historic drop is still not enticing most American vacationers.

Majority of travelers remain reluctant

“People are generally scared to fly and also have economic uncertainty, especially because unemployment benefits are running out,” Zeta Global CEO David A. Steinberg tells CNN. The artificial intelligence company says 31 million fewer American travelers can be expected to take to the skies for the holiday season this year. The firm surveyed 44,000 people and found 58 percent have no plans to travel. The percentage has increased from 49 percent surveyed last year who said they would stay home.

Research company ForwardKeys indicates the prospect for international travel remains gloomy. Winter holiday bookings at the beginning of August were off 65.4 percent from the same time in 2019.

“Our clients are showing a lot of interest in holiday travel but are afraid to make commitments. They’re waiting to see what countries will reopen and what quarantine requirements will be like,” says Karen Magee. Karen is a senior vice president at luxury travel companies Protravel and Tzell Travel, which employ more than 1,100 travel advisers around the world. While bookings are down compared to 2019, she said her organizations are making sales. “The Caribbean is big for us. St. Bart’s first followed Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and St. Lucia.” she says.

Road trips offer getaways close to home

Americans who are eager to explore this holiday season know that road trips can take them to domestic destinations known for celebrations. Thanksgiving is a great time to drive to a region where fall leaves are changing color in spectacular displays. Check out destinations close to home and don’t forget hours and availability may have changed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The CDC provides valuable information for travelers.

Head to your favorite part of the country for a Thanksgiving weekend getaway in an out-of-the way locale with wide open spaces. The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in the lovely Leavenworth Valley of Washington state is for those who enjoy getting back to nature without sacrificing home comforts (click here). Favored by those looking for an active weekend, Base Camp Tahoe City in the Lake Tahoe Basin offers rustic comfort (click here). Looking for sandy beaches and warm temps? The PGA Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens is a getaway surrounded by five championship golf courses and a state-of-the-art spa (click here). Looking for a top rated theme park Holiday event? They perform a Holiday parade at night with 6.5 million lightbulbs in Missouri! Be sure to check out scheduling before you go. Check out Silver Dollar City Attractions (click here).

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