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Rising price of airfare & increasing changes frustrating many travelers

Posted at 6:14 AM, Nov 04, 2021

(WXYZ) — From rising fares to recent cancellations and unruly passengers, this holiday season in the skies may not be so merry and bright.

American Airlines explained its mass cancellations over Halloween weekend were due to crew shortages and weather. So, you may be wondering what we can expect for the holidays.

Our Alicia Smith heard from some of you about your concerns and found out ways to still try to snag a deal:

The first thing you should expect is prices to keep on rising.

I asked on Facebook if people had bought tickets for the holidays. Some had found a few deals, but Theresa MacDonald replied, "Sticker shock. Bought a ticket for my son to come home from Albuquerque on the 23rd and return on the 26th – over a $600 round trip (and bought it in September)."

Flight changes are also becoming more common.

Back in July, Jill Schubiner of Birmingham booked a nonstop flight for a mother-daughter trip to Florida over Christmas with Comfort+ seats.

“Delta changed our flight three times, and the last time they changed it, they put us on a connecting flight in Atlanta," she said.

She called Delta to change it, hoping for the "call back" option but said it wasn't available.

After a lot of back-and-forth over seats and schedules, she finally got a nonstop flight sitting beside her daughter, but they're in coach — or the Main cabin — not Comfort+.

She said she was on the phone with Delta at least 7 hours trying to sort it all out.

"It was very frustrating," Schubiner said.

Jill Jones, a travel concierge with Cadillac Travel, said there are probably 30,000 to 40,000 schedule changes a month right now.

"I'm seeing more changes than I've ever seen," Jones said.

If an airline changes your flight, she said, you don't have to accept it. But the earlier you try to fix it, the better your options.

Make sure you check your email or texts so you don't miss any alerts.

Jones said she's seeing holiday prices increase higher than she's ever seen, especially to popular tourist destinations like Florida, Arizona, California, and Mexico.

“Fares for example Detroit to Cancun were $1,200 for Christmas months ago," she said.

To snag a deal, Jones said be willing to book travel on the actual holiday or book before or after the busy holiday periods.

“If you’re trying to come back on that Sunday before school starts on Monday, it will be the highest fare," she said.

As for schedule changes, Jones said Delta travelers can ask for a refund if Delta has changed a nonstop flight to a connection, changed a flight by more than 90 minutes, changed your departure by more than 60 minutes, or changed your arrival by more than 30 minutes.

I did reach out to Delta for a response to the complaints, and a Delta spokesperson replied in a statement, saying, in part, Delta is "not facing staffing challenges," but with the "rapid return of travelers, flight changes are occurring."

The spokesman went on to say Delta is trying to make "schedule changes well in advance of when customers are flying, so they have more reliability in their plans."

Jones said if you haven't booked air travel for the holidays yet, don't wait. Prices will only go up.