Best time to buy holiday flights is before Halloween, analysts say as gas prices, demand skyrocket

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the holidays approaching, United Airlines' CEO said travelers should brace to pay more for their next flight.

The skyrocketing cost of fuel isn't just affecting cars on the road, but passengers in the air.

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United said it's already seeing a surge in demand for the holidays and is hiring 1,000 more pilots so far this year to help get more flights in the air.

But that higher demand also means higher prices, and experts said they're coming fast. Industry analysts say come Halloween, which is just 10 days away, many of the deals will be gone.

"If you're looking to fly for Thanksgiving, you should be looking to book just about now," said Willis Orlando, with Scott's Cheap Flights. "That window is closing on you. I wouldn't wait more than another week or two to book those Thanksgiving flights."

Orlando said there are some deals still out there, and with many airlines getting rid of cancellation and change fees, booking now, no matter what, may be a good move.

"Right now, airline policies are in your favor," Willis said. "So if you're not 100% certain if you'll be traveling over the holidays, you think you might be, hey, lock in that great fare right now, knowing that you can likely push it down the road without paying a change fee. There's kind of no harm-no foul if you book and decide to change your ticket."

And it turns out, if you find the same flight at a cheaper price later, you can make the change, too.

"If prices go down because change fees are waived, you can likely take the money from the first ticket in a voucher and buy the new ticket and have a little something left over on the side," Willis said.

Of course, we've seen lots of cancellations and delays during this pandemic, so experts say you should try to book the earliest flight possible for the day. That way, if something goes wrong, you have more options later in the day.
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