Holiday Travelers Waiting Longer to Book Travel

Holiday travelers, possibly holding out for better deals and better employment situation for themselves, waited a little longer to book their flights this year, according to the Associated Press. Some aren’t traveling at all.

The average advance purchase of 55 days for Thanksgiving travel this year is 2.6 days later than last year’s average, according to Travelocity.

People flying in late December waited until 88 days in advance to buy domestic trips, down from 96 days last year. The average purchase for international trips was made 7.5 days later, or 110 days in advance.

Travelocity said average domestic airfares fell 7 percent from a year ago for departures between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3. International fares fell 11 percent.

A Forrester Research analyst said many hotels report getting 20 percent or more of their bookings within a week of the arrival date, perhaps meaning consumers are simply being extremely careful and frugal.

For hotel stays during that period, domestic rates were down 9 percent from last year. International hotel rates fell 8 percent.

Maritz Research estimated that almost 1.6 million fewer people would travel during the holiday season. Its phone poll conducted in October found that about 23 percent of people plan to travel, down from 27 percent in 2005.

Thirty one percent said financial concerns kept them from traveling, while 14 percent cited swine flu worries. Another 14 percent said they or someone in their household had lost a job within the past year, according to Maritz.

During the week of Nov. 20, AAA said it expected air travel to decline 6.7 percent this Thanksgiving, to 2.3 million passengers, compared to 2.5 million in 2008.

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