Our Chicago: Holiday Travel & Scams

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, December 10, 2023
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The holidays coming up may be all about getting together with family, and perhaps a little getaway. So, for millions of Americans, that means packing up and heading to the airport.

The Transportation Security Administration reported a record number of passengers on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so what's ahead for Christmas and New Year's?

Hayley Berg, lead economist with the travel app and website, Hopper, offered holiday travel tips for consumers.

"We're fully expecting to see crowds similar in size to Thanksgiving," said Hayley Berg, lead economist with the travel app and website, Hopper. "The busiest day will be the Thursday and Friday before the holiday weekend. So, if you have any flexibility try to depart on Saturday or Christmas Eve. Returning from those trips, the whole week after Christmas will be busy. But if you can skip the December 26th or 27th return those will be some of the most crowded days."

Before they fly, the U.S. Department of Transportation is urging people to know their rights should their flight be delayed or cancelled.

"The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you're cancelled, the airline is responsible for getting you to your destination," Berg said. "That doesn't necessarily mean the same day. So if you do have hotel costs, if you have to eat extra meals at the airport, sometimes airlines will provide vouchers proactively, but sometimes you need to keep track of those expenses and then file a claim with the airline. So, each airline is a little bit different."

For those who aren't traveling now or maybe want to get away from the cold, gray days of January, there is good news.

"January is the best month of the year to take a trip," Berg said. "Prices are low for airfare, prices are low for hotels and resorts. So, if you can make it through December and make that vacation plan for January we're seeing fares under $75 to destinations in Florida from Chicago, like Miami and Orlando. About $150 round-trip to Puerto Rico. And just under $200 to Cancun."

The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois has warned about the "Twelve Scams of Christmas."

The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois is warning about The Twelve Scams of Christmas.

The top two are related to social media. One of them has to do with misleading ads.

"You see those ads pop up, you're not even looking for it, and all of a sudden this great item appears at a reduced price and you click on it," said Steve Bernas, President & CEO of the BBB. "You don't know who you're buying it from and that's what concerns the Better Business Bureau. We did a recent study. About 65% of the consumers that clicked those ads had no intention of buying the product that morning. In essence, you've got to do your homework about the business before buying a product online. The second thing is the gift exchange. Any time you see that gift exchange in a text email or regular emails, saying 'send us one bottle of wine and you'll get 12 in return or 36 in return, or even now they're doing dog toys that's a pyramid scheme and against the law."

Bernas said puppy scams topped the list of online scams for the most money lost. According to the Better Business Bureau, last year victims lost an average of $850. So if you find a cute picture of a dog online, how do you know if its really available?

"The key to this, the number one flag is if they can't meet you or see you or do a video chat or anything, that's the tipoff to the ripoff," Bernas said. "They're trying to get as much money from you in any way they possibly can."

Bernas said the second flag is unconventional payment methods.

"They ask for gift cards, or to wire money, anything but a credit card and even using a cash app those are safe," Bernas said. "But if you send it to somebody and it's a fraudulent purchase, guess what, they're not going to cover you like a credit card and that's when people usually end up losing money."

For more from the Better Business Bureau, click here.