Flying home for the holidays might be a bit more expensive this year.

Fuel Prices have shot up this summer, and are projected to only get higher as the year goes on. As expected, airlines have had to raise prices due to the higher expenditures associated with a rise in fuel prices.

I did a search of 4 airlines for my annual Christmas flights between TYO (the code denoting the airports in the Tokyo metro area) and CVG, and found the price of flights ranged between US$1,100 and $1,800…that’s between 1.7 and 3 times the price of the flights I paid last year for Christmas.

I’m afraid this is probably as cheap as it’s going to get this year for holiday flights. The fuel price fluctuations combined with the economy going up and down due to the tariffs is going to cause a lot of airlines to charge more just as a safety net before even factoring in fuel prices.

What should you do to avoid getting on the wrong end of the stick for your holiday travel?
Plan ahead. I always say that but it’s true…plan well ahead. If you know when you’re going to be traveling home for the holidays, book tickets as soon as you can. I think this would also be a good time as ever to use your saved up frequent flier miles. Until the uneasiness of the Trump tariffs passes, flights-especially trans-continental flights-are going to be rather high.

This is NOT the time to get one of those basic economy fare plans, however. I still find them to be an extreme ripoff, especially when you’re traveling with luggage for a long vacation. Save those fares for emergencies, short business trips, or anything that involves bare bones travel. Holiday travel often involves bringing presents, souvenirs, or gifts back and forth between your origin and destination, especially in the context of Japan. I bring home barely anything, but often return to Tokyo bringing an immense amount of souvenirs for my colleagues and business partners, as is custom for traveling in Japan. So if you’re going to be considering basic economy fares, note that a lot of the time, you’re going to end up spending more than what you’d normally spend on a flight if you just chose normal economy fares.

The holiday time of year is enormously stressful. Planning ahead and choosing the right airline and airfare class is critical to easing the stress…both on your mind and on your wallet. As we get closer to holiday season, I will be posting more tips and tricks on how to minimize the amount of stress and downtime you’ll have traveling through the airports for the holidays. Stay tuned.

-Zach

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