AAA: Holiday travelers making plans early this year

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (September 12, 2021) – Although the summer travel season just came to an end, Tennesseans are already beginning to lock in their plans for the holidays. When AAA fielded a travel survey this summer, one in five (20%) Tennessee travelers had plans to take a trip during the holidays. Of those, one-third (32%) said they would book earlier than in years past, due to higher travel prices.

According to the survey, a third (33%) of Thanksgiving travelers will finalize plans by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the share of those finalizing Christmas plans is evenly spread out between now and the end of November.

When Thanksgiving travel plans would be finalized:

25% before September
8% September
40% October
20% November
7% unsure

When Christmas travel plans would be finalized:

16% before September
12% September
25% October
31% November
12% December
4% unsure

“Travelers expecting to fly this Thanksgiving should start locking in those plans now,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Airline staffing shortages have resulted in fewer flights and higher prices. As we get closer to the holidays, airfares are likely to get even more expensive as flights fill up. Our best advice is simple: Book early. This will increase the odds of finding the flight you want at a competitive price.”

AAA’s Advice for Booking a Flight

Book early for the best combination of availability and price.

Book a direct flight that leaves early in the morning. Afternoon and evening flights are more susceptible to delays/cancellations due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Connecting flights multiply the risk of something going wrong.
Consider traveling a day or two earlier than planned. Even if you face delays, you are still likely to arrive on time.
If your flight has connections, build in a couple hours in between flights.  This way, if your first flight is delayed, you are less likely to miss your second one.

“With all the unpredictability with air travel, we are seeing more and more passengers opt for travel insurance,” Haas said. “Travel Insurance is such a valuable resource for air travelers, because it provides financial benefits for lost or delayed luggage, flight cancellations, even flight delays of as little as three hours.”

According to AAA’s survey, 32% of Tennesseans are more likely to purchase travel insurance now than before the pandemic began.


AAA will release its Thanksgiving Travel Forecast in early November.