NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Although the summer travel season just came to an end, North Dakotans are already beginning to lock in their plans for the holidays.

According to a news release, when AAA fielded a travel survey in the summer, a quarter (26%) of North Dakota travelers had plans to take a trip during the holidays.

Of that 26%, nearly two in five (38%) said they would book earlier than in years past, due to higher travel prices.

According to the survey, the majority (61%) of Thanksgiving travelers will finalize plans by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the majority (61%) of Christmas travelers will finalize plans by the end of October.

When Thanksgiving travel plans would be finalized:

  • 39% before September
  • 22% September
  • 16% October
  • 12% November
  • 11% unsure

When Christmas travel plans would be finalized:

  • 12% before September
  • 28% September
  • 21% October
  • 11% November
  • 17% December
  • 11% 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.”

Why 34% of North Dakota Travelers will Avoid Air Travel

Two-thirds (66%) of travelers plan to take at least one flight during the holiday season.

Of those not planning a flight, 36% say it’s because their destination is close enough that a flight is not required.

However, the largest share (54%) say they don’t plan to fly because they’re concerned their flights will be canceled or delayed.

Meanwhile, 32% blame the higher cost of airfares.

Click here to view the full survey.

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. Having connecting flights multiplies 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 of hours 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, 48% of North Dakotans are more likely to purchase travel insurance now than before the pandemic began.