Is holiday travel worse than ever?

Airports will be packed this weekend with travelers looking to go home for Thanksgiving.

On this busiest travel day of the year, some flyers are finding air travel even less enjoyable than usual. Prices are rising, planes are packed... Just finding a flight in some markets can be tough. But the troubles don't end at the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

There are a number of factors contributing to the increased difficultly -- and cost -- of this particular form of travel.

"I don't want to say that the industry's going out of its way to make travel more difficult," says Cliff Winston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "But, what they're doing is that they're concentrating on the large airports, and major routes, and they're cutting back service on the outside routes."

Airlines are also focused on keeping their planes filled. They have reduced the number of flights to make that happen. They also have raised prices. 

"They don't have to lower fares to fill up planes like they do when there's fare wars, and they have extra seats," says Winston. "So they're actually able to raise fares or keep them high."

And while this kind of tactic can be a pain to consumers, it's also a good business strategy.

"They're behaving in a rational, profit-maximizing way," Winston adds. "They're doing all the right things, and obviously their shareholders should be happy that they're making money."

 

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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