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Looking to travel this holiday season? Experts say buy your tickets now

Travel experts say demand for airline travel will be at a five-year high this holiday season.

MINNEAPOLIS — MEA break in Minnesota is just four weeks away, then before you know it, it's Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So if you're thinking about traveling anytime soon, experts say you should buy your ticket now.

If you look at the Consumer Price Index, airline tickets have actually gotten cheaper over the last few months as fuel prices go down, but experts are expecting a big shift in the coming weeks heading into the holidays.

"We're seeing the strongest demand we've seen in five years for holiday travel,” Andrew Heritage says.

Heritage is a senior economist with the Hopper travel app.

He says a lot of the demand this holiday season will come from travelers who have avoided airports during the pandemic and finally see an opportunity to fly out and visit friends and family over the holidays.

"And then on the supply side, airline capacity isn't quite back to where it was pre-pandemic,” Heritage explains.

And we all know what happens when demand is high and supply is low: Prices go up.

Heritage says there's still a small window of opportunity before that happens.

"Plan to book no later than Oct. 10. After Oct. 10, we expect prices to start to rise as flights sell out,” Heritage says.

According to Hopper, the average ticket price around Thanksgiving is already 22% higher than it was last year, at $350 for the average domestic flight.

For Christmas, prices are around 31% higher than they were last year, amounting to around $463 for the average domestic flight.

Kyle Potter with the Thrifty Traveler agrees — this year, you don't want to wait.

But he says travelers also need a ticket that offers flexibility in case plans suddenly change.

"The key here is you can't book the cheapest basic economy ticket. You need to book at least a standard economy ticket or higher,” Potter says.

And travelers should always read the cancellation policies before they buy their tickets, but every airline handles things a little differently.

You can also save money and time at the airport by flying out on slower days.

"Tuesdays are almost always going to be your cheapest day to get on a plane. Saturday is generally going to be a close second,” Potter says.

This summer, we saw a lot of delays and cancellations.

Potter says the airline industry has worked out a lot of those problems, but with the busy holiday season, he says we'll likely see more of them — so be prepared.

Hotels, however, are different.

Heritage says travelers still might find a good deal by waiting it out, but if you're traveling to a popular spot like Mexico, the Caribbean or a popular resort, travel experts say you should book your room when you book your plane ticket just to be safe.

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