A US Department of Transportation report says airfares are up almost 10% over levels a year ago. The report says fares are at their highest point in 6 years. Anecdotally, fares from PDX to Las Vegas, that ran about $180 last year, are running over $200 this year. Fares from PDX to Oakland, which used to run $120 to $130, are running around $175. And trans-Atlantic fares, which had been running between $800 and $1000... are runnning between $1300 and $1500.
Most experts cite two main reasons for the increase. One, demand. More people than ever before are flying... and they're filling the same number of seats. So seats are harder to come by. Two, fuel prices. Airlines are paying near-record prices for jet fuel... and they're passing on the costs to travelers.
If you're planning a trip for Spring or Summer... we polled some experts on tips to get a better deal.
- Check Fares Daily: Monitor what fares are doing on a specific flight each day... for a couple of weeks. You'll get a good feeling for what the fares typically run, and when you see the price dip, you can book at the low-point.
- Use http://hotwire.com: This website offers discounts between 10% and 50%. The caveat: it won't give you a specific itinerary, or tell you which airline you're flying, until after you book. So you need to have a little flexibility... to take advantage of the deals. Hotwire also has low rates for hotel rooms.
- Think About Getting an Airline Credit Card: You probably get the applications in the mail already. Every airline has a credit card, on which you can earn frequent flyer miles. Many of them offer you a free roundtrip ticket just for signing up. It can be a good way to fly for free. But remember to check and see if there's an annual fee. Avoid cards that charge those kind of fees.
- Book on Off-Peak Travel Days: Typically, you'll find cheaper flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Try to fly-out and come-back on those days... and try to include a Saturday night stay, if possible.
Any other tips? E-mail me at email@example.com.