(WXYZ) — Frequent flyers may have noticed the cost of flying has gone down a bit for flights in September and October — especially as demand has dropped with schools back in session. But if you're even thinking about flying over the holidays at the end of the year, stop thinking about it and book it, according to one travel expert.
David Fishman, the President of Cadillac Travel in Southfield, said six months ago was the best time to buy tickets for the holiday season. Airlines still don't have enough inventory to meet demand for flights, and staffing has been a major challenge.
“The sooner that you buy your tickets, the better off you are in regards to pricing. So, you should try and buy your tickets as far in advance as possible," Fishman said.
If you want to hop to a popular destination for Thanksgiving or in December, prepare for sticker shock.
“Roughly how much are we expecting to pay for tickets for the holidays?" I asked.
“It's really hard to say. It just depends on where you're going. But right now I've seen ticket prices as high to Florida as over $1,000, to go to Florida!" Fishman said.
I found the same thing when I searched Delta flights to Miami departing Dec. 23 and coming back on New Year's Day. Basic cabin seats were pretty much sold out, and main cabin seats were nearly $1,000 or more.
Fishman said there are two important points.
First, be flexible. If you can book to fly back before New Year's or if you can leave after New Year's, that can save you money.
Second, buy a refundable ticket. It costs a little more, but with COVID-19 still here, flu season coming, and winter weather ups and downs, it's a smart option so you can get your money back if you have to cancel.
Non-refundable tickets are less expensive, but in some cases, Delta acknowledges you can get hit with a cancellation charge deducted from the cost of the flight. Then any remaining value will come to you as an e-credit used when you buy your next flight.
Fishman also stressed the importance of buying travel insurance if you've invested a lot of money in your trip. What the travel insurance covers varies depending on which provider and plan you choose, but it can include weather events that canceled your trip, accidental injury or sickness from COVID-19, and even if you or your travel partner got terminated or laid off from a job.
Fishman said travel insurance usually costs anywhere from 3%-5% of the cost of your trip.