Travel interest strong despite rising costs

BySharita J. Wilson

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TROY — Higher costs are not curtailing Americans’ desire to travel.

Last week the AAA last week predicted 48 million Americans would travel over the Fourth of July weekend, up 4% from 2021 and 2% less than pre-pandemic travel in 2019. reported 41% of American travelers said gas prices will greatly impact their travel decisions for the next six months.

Travel agent Corie Devall, the owner of Travel by Corie in Troy, said her sales have been higher this year than previously, including pre-pandemic years. 

“They don’t seem to care what the cost is right now,” she said of travelers. “Gas prices are higher for fuel with planes, but they don’t seem to care.

“It seems like, and this could just be me, but for the past couple years travel was down, and so they either saved their money or they just got a new credit card,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the cost is, they’re ready to go and they want to get out of here.”

Travel by Corie specializes in personal and customized vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean. Devall said she sees a trend in families choosing to go to Cancún and Punta Cana. She believes part of their draw are nonstop flights. 

The rise in travel interest is paired with a rise in unhappiness. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported air travel consumer complaints were 321.5% above pre-pandemic levels based on data compiled from April 2022. Of the complaints, 32.3% regarded refunds and 30.5% concerned cancellations, delays and other deviations from airline schedules. 

“The main complaint is there is a rise in luggage costs,” Devall said about her clients. “A lot of my clients fly Frontier, so when they go to check in and purchase their luggage … now luggage is a little bit more.”

According to FlightAware’s US Domestic and International Delays and Cancellations Report, 2.8% of 262,422 flights have been canceled in the past week and a half and 55,864 flights have been delayed with an average delayed time of 50 minutes. 

“They’re shorthanded, just like everybody else is,” Devall said of airlines.

“If you travel toward the end of the month then there’s a chance that your flight could get canceled or it could be delayed because the pilots and your flight attendants, they can only fly so many hours a month,” she said. “Because travel has picked up so much, by the time they get to the end of the month, they’ve already done their hours and so then they’re having to cancel flights and or postpone them because they’re short pilots and short flight attendants.

“It’s better to fly at the beginning of the month, middle of the month, because then you have less chance of your flight getting delayed or canceled,” Devall said.

Devall said she also has seen an increase in interest in all-inclusive packages among her clients. 

“People are really just wanting to do the all-inclusive because they know that they won’t have any worries, it’s easier for them,” she said. “I think not just me, but most travel agents, in general, are just busier right now because it’s just easy.”