It's a time-worn holiday tradition: You drag yourself to the airport, stand in the security line for hours, cram yourself onto a crowded plane and pay through the nose for the right to do so.
If recent data is correct, though, holiday travel in general is becoming something more Americans are deciding they can--or have to--do without.
"Holiday travel has been one of the most resilient traditions of Americans," said Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting and strategic implementation for marketing company Maritz. Yet with the economy still in the gutter and unemployment high, a poll Maritz conducted found record-low numbers of people will travel this holiday season.
Just 21 percent of those polled planned to travel for the holidays this year, down from 28 percent in 2010. "When you project that over millions of Americans, it's pretty significant," Garlick said.
People taking flights out of Chicago might be in the biggest pickle--prices are high, even though fewer people are flying, according to Mark Murphy, a travel writer and president and CEO of Travel Alliance.
The biggest issue with travel this year is air[fare]," he said. "There are fewer seats. Add supply and demand, and you are paying a huge premium to fly."
A recent search showed a roundtrip nonstop flight from O'Hare to LAX from Dec. 23 to 26 costs about $560 on United Airlines and a roundtrip flight from Midway to New York's LaGuardia Airport on Southwest for the same time period would be about $660. Flying from Midway to Atlanta on Delta runs about $340 for the same dates.
Add to the stress of high prices an increasingly rough airport experience, with full-body X-rays and pat-downs, and it's like a mixed-martial arts contest of traveler vs. the world. To help with this year's trip, RedEye stacks up tips for navigating the modern-day jungle that is holiday travel out of Chicago.
ggarvey@Tribune.com | @gcgarvey