Holiday Travel: 5 Changes to Expect
Traveling over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays? If you haven't been in an airport recently, you'll notice that things are a little different this holiday season.
Here are five changes you can count on as you head out of town for the holidays.
1. Fares are higher. The airlines have attempted to raise fares 17 times during 2011, and eight of those attempts have been successful, according to Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com. Airfare for travel over Thanksgiving weekend could be as much as 20 percent higher than last year's fares, Seaney says.
2. Security lines may be faster. Since Thanksgiving 2010, the Transportation Security Administration has implemented PreCheck, an airport program aimed at easing congestion at security checkpoints, says Robert Bobo of the U.S. Travel Association. "Eligible travelers, who currently include frequent travelers and participants in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's trusted traveler programs, use a different security line and don't have to remove shoes or jackets," he says. "The risk-based approach to security is a welcome change from the one-size-fits-all approach of the last decade."
3. Hotels add new cancellation fees. If you have to cancel a hotel reservation, even 24 hours before you were scheduled to arrive, you may be charged for the first night's stay, even if the hotel is able to re-sell the room, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott on his blog. Before making reservations, ask for a copy of the hotel's terms and conditions regarding rates.
4. Airlines add more bag fees. Travelers have grown accustomed to paying for checked baggage, but be careful not to overload those bags with holiday gifts. Bags that are considered overweight carry steep fee increases. For instance, United charges a flat fee of $25 each way for a bag that weighs up to 50 pounds. But for bags weighing between 51 and 70 pounds, an additional $100 fee applies each way, and for bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds, an additional $200 fee applies. While carry-on bags still are allowed at no charge on most airlines, Spirit Airlines now charges passengers $20 to $40 fees to bring a carry-on bag aboard a flight.
5. Car rental counters may be busier. If you plan to rent a car at your destination, be sure to book ahead. Holiday airport reservations at Enterprise, National and Alamo car rental agencies are up 10 percent over last year for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
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