Is early 2022 the best time to book air travel?

Although there was a return to pre-pandemic levels of travel during the 2021 holiday season, it’s likely concerns about COVID-19 will continue to diminish consumer confidence for planning their next vacation.

Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News, told WTOP that despite pandemic concerns, the beginning of 2022 is an ideal time to book your next flight.

“The beginning of 2022 will be an unintended buyer’s market for consumers,” Greenberg said. “As air travel will drop, frequencies will drop, but availability will increase. And what that means is, for the first three months of 2022, you’re going to see fares in the United States, in some markets, dropped to double-digit prices.”

How much will the fares drop? Greenberg said that in some cases, flying across the country can be cheaper than a taxi across town.

“Dallas to LaGuardia for $36. One way New York to Los Angeles for $66. Put that in perspective,” he said. “The cab ride from Manhattan to JFK is more than that. So if you need to travel or you want to travel, or both, the first three months are wide-open for you.”

Greenberg also said customers who have been saving up their frequent flyer miles for better days shouldn’t wait too long to redeem them.

“If you take a look at how many unredeemed frequent flyer miles there are out there, it’s about 23 trillion of them. They’re going to be worth less and less as the year goes on,” he said. “As the airlines start devaluing your miles in order to handle their own debt, they’re going to make them harder to earn and even harder to redeem.”

But how quickly should consumers act to redeem those frequent flyer miles?

“Run, do not walk to redeem them,” Greenberg said. ” You (have) up to 330 days out to plan this. And, for the moment, you’ll be able to redeem them with eligibility levels that have not been increased. And, there’s inventory out there, meaning frequent flyer seats (are) available through November of next year.”

“So, please do yourself a favor, and don’t let the miles sit around. It’s not like a bank account, where your miles accrue interest. In fact, the opposite occurs. The longer you hold on to them, the less valuable they are.”

WTOP’s Gigi Barnett contributed to this story.

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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