3 Factors Impacting 2022 Holiday Air Travel

With the weather turning colder in some areas of the country, travelers’ minds are beginning to shift toward holiday planning. The end of 2022 is proving to be an interesting quarter for both travelers and hoteliers, thanks to several key trends like increased travel demand, record-high inflation, and limited flight availability. Let’s take a closer look.

Projected Increase in Flight Prices

The pent-up travel demand from COVID that fueled increases in demand for summer flights earlier this year continues as we approach the holiday season. According to an article from NBC news, plane tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be the highest they have been in the past five years. Thanksgiving airline prices are 25% higher than 2019, and Christmas airfare prices are already 55% higher than 2019.

But there’s more to these high prices than increased demand alone. Airlines are also operating with an average of 15% reduction in supply of available seats per flight. Many airlines decreased capacity during COVID and, although consumer demand has fully recovered, their ability to meet it is still working to catch up.

Just like travelers, airlines are also feeling inflationary pressures. CBS news stated that airlines are passing along the higher prices of oil and other supplies along to the customers. And, for the time being, customers are willing to pay – especially during the holidays.

Shifting Traveler Behavior

Even with inflation at a 40-year high, people are still willing to pay for travel. Research has found that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on travel and experiences than material items (a trend that has continued to grow in popularity over the past few years). Whether it’s domestic trips to create memories with loved ones, or international getaways to satisfy the need for adventure and exploration, the travel industry continues to grow.

What has changed, though, are consumer booking behaviors. Many travel experts like the NY Times Travel section are recommending travelers book their plans as early as possible. Usually travelers aim to book between 14 – 21 days in advance, but in the holiday season of 2022, travelers should look to finalize all of their plans by the beginning of November.

A good way for travelers to find lower airline fares is to allow for flexibility within their travel dates and times. With remote work more popular than ever, many travelers are able to arrive at their destination earlier or stay later while working remotely. Traveling can also save some extra cash by traveling on off-peak days.

Impact on Hotels

Similar to airlines, hotels have also been experiencing an increase in demand, with travelers willing to pay higher-than-ever prices. According to Koddi, US hotel brands are seeing an average revenue per booking increase of approximately 15% in 2022.

As both hotel and airfare prices increase, some travelers may want to minimize the financial impact of their overall holiday trips. This could potentially result in travelers shifting their brand preferences for more budget-friendly brands or cashing in on stored up loyalty points.

Travelers’ booking behavior is also changing. According to Koddi data, US hotels are seeing a year over year increase of 81% for users searching for hotel rooms 31 – 60 days in advance of their trip. Travelers looking for hotel rooms 60 – 90 days ahead of their trip have doubled compared to 2021. This means travelers are both searching and booking their trips earlier than they have in previous years.

Additionally, hotels may consider appealing to travelers who are open to extending their stay to include both business and leisure. Many hotel brands have created specific offerings for travelers looking for “work-cations.” Industry influencer The Points Guy even created a guide for travelers of what to look for in working from a hotel; savvy hotel marketers can use it as a guide to create a competitive offering!


While some trends like continued inflation and labor difficulties may be daunting to hotel owners going into the holiday season in 2022, the increased demand both in flights and hotel bookings is an encouraging sign. Travelers are still willing to pay top dollar for memorable experiences and hotel stays to match their holiday wish lists. Excellent travel experiences can be a gift in and of themselves, for travel marketers who adjust their strategies accordingly.