CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A busy travel weekend is underway as more people hit the roads and return to the skies.
Cancellations and delays are expected with airlines struggling to keep up with the high demand.
Travel is expected to be up 8.3% compared with Memorial Day weekend last year, according to AAA. The lowest average airfare is up about 6% from Memorial Day weekend 2021.
John Lovell, the owner of Breton Travel in Grand Rapids, says he is seeing a lot of people wanting to travel again.
“Everybody wants to go somewhere,” Lovell said. “Demand is probably close to the highest I’ve ever seen. You know there’s so much pent-up demand. People have been not able to travel for the last two years.”
Tom Grossman, the Executive Director of Flight Operations with Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation says airlines are facing many challenges.
“During the pandemic, airline travel dropped to near zero and as a result of that, they had to really look at labor forces … they offered a lot of buyouts, early retirements to a lot of their pilots so that they could survive the economic downfall associated with the pandemic,” Grossman said.
In addition to fewer pilots, fuel costs have also helped drive up fares.
“I think our most recent fuel delivery for us at a wholesale, not a retail cost … was over $6 a gallon for aviation fuel,” Grossman said. “I’ve seen some airports that are selling their retail costs of fuel upwards of $10 a gallon.”
Travel advisors say there are some things you should know before you get your tickets.
“Do they have inter-airline agreements? Which means, that if you do have a trip delay or trip cancelation, that they have the ability and they have agreements with other carriers, they can put you on those other carriers. Carriers like Spirit do not have inter-airline agreements,” Lovell said.
Travel insurance is also recommended and being flexible on your destination can help keep costs down. With many airlines having to trim their summer schedules, average airfares are not expected to decrease.
“I think that’s one thing you have to be prepared for is things may not go as planned,” Lovell said. “The airline industry is supply and demand. It’s a classic model of that and more demand is gonna mean higher prices.”
Breton Travel is also seeing demand for the cruises increasing, with many vessels heading to Alaska already booked up.