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Entries in Airfare (20)

Tuesday
Feb262013

Spring Break Airfare Up 9%

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Families and college kids, hold on to your wallets: Airfare for spring break is up almost double digits from last year.

The average price of a round-trip domestic ticket is 9 percent higher this spring break, according to the online travel booking site Travelocity.  The going rate from March 1 to April 15, when the vast majority of spring breaks fall, is $372 round-trip, inclusive of tax but not optional fees such as baggage or seat selection.

Airfare has risen in every one of the top 10 most popular domestic destinations since last year.  Some increases are negligible: airfare to Los Angeles, for example is up just 0.8 percent.  But airfare to Washington, D.C., is up a whopping 20 percent.

The average price for international airfare is $782, up 7 percent compared to last year.

But in good news for travelers, some of the most competitive prices can be found to traditionally popular spring-break destinations.  South Florida and Orlando, for example, are on average $369 and $350, respectively -- both lower, if only a bit, than the national average.

Some major cities also rank high on the list for value-seeking air travelers.  New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. (even with the 20 percent spike) come in under the national average.

And for skiers, a ticket to the gateway city of Denver costs, on average, just $289 round-trip.

Sun seekers should concentrate their searches on the Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where airfare has dropped slightly since last year -- down 5 and 3 percent, respectively.

Hotwire.com, which specializes in booking for last-minute trips, said every Hawaiian airport has seen a price drop since last year, between 1 and 4 percent.

And while the cost of a trip across the pond is not for the budget-conscious, airfare to London and Paris is nearly 40 percent cheaper than at this time last year, said Travelocity.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb142013

What US Airways, American Airlines Merger Means for Travelers

PRNewsFoto/American Airlines(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines and US Airways announced on Thursday that they will merge their operations and become one airline, called American Airlines.  Together, they will be the world's largest airline by passenger traffic.

So what does the merger mean for travelers?  

In the short-term, travelers will see virtually no changes from either airline.  The merger still faces regulatory obstacles and must be approved by the Department of Transportation and the Justice Department.  If and when it passes that scrutiny, the process of merging the two airlines' operations will begin.

If you're holding a ticket on US Airways or American Airlines, that ticket will still be valid on the airline you planned to fly, on the day and time you planned to fly it.

When you get to the airport, you will head to the same airline check-in counter by which your ticket was issued.

The only possible exception is if you are holding a ticket for many months out and your airline's schedule changes as a result of the merger of flight schedules.  In this case, you will be contacted by the airline ahead of time, typically to the email address you provided when the ticket was purchased.

And members of either airline's frequent flier programs need not worry: Your miles are still valid on your airline and it's very unlikely you'll lose miles or elite status.  

American and US Airways will merge frequent flier programs.  The new American Airlines will be part of the oneworld Alliance.  US Airways will leave the Star Alliance.

Longer term, the merger could mean higher prices.  The U.S., in the last decade, has gone from six legacy carriers (Delta, Northwest, United, Continental, American and US Airways) to four (Delta, United, American and US Airways).

If this merger is approved, just three legacy carriers will remain.

Certainly, the higher fares can't all be attributed to consolidation in the industry (fuel costs, a reduction in available seats and the economy all factor in) but in general, less competition means higher prices.

Higher airfare tends to hit smaller cities harder than larger cities because smaller cities and airports have less competition.

On the up side, the merger will also mean more destinations for the new American Airlines.  US Airways passengers will benefit from American's international routes, particularly in Europe and Latin America.  American will be able to access the smaller U.S. cities where US Airways has a large presence.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb082013

Tips for Saving Money on Airfare

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Looking for a deal on airfare?

A lot of people are wondering what the potential merger between American and US Airways would mean for their pocketbook. With this in mind, here are some tips on booking airfare you can follow that could save you money.

1. Book in Pairs 

When booking for a family or group, booking in pairs can help you avoid higher prices that many airlines charge for the convenience of sitting together.

2. Buy Your Tickets on Tuesday Afternoon

It turns out that airlines typically release their sale fares on Tuesdays at 3 p.m., making it a good time to secure those deals before they expire or are gobbled up by other sale-searching travelers.

3. Shop Around on Websites

When searching for the best prices on airfare, it is a good idea to look at multiple websites.  Hipmunk.com has an “agony tab” that combines price, duration and number of stops so you can determine how painful your upcoming trip will be.  Sign up at Yapta.com and it will send you alerts if the rate falls before you book.

4. Book Directly with the Airline

Airlines often pay a $10 to $15 commission on flights that are booked through a discount site.  Because of this, airlines often encourage customers to book through their official websites by offering incentives like promo codes and deals posted on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Most airlines don’t publicize this, but many will give you a refund if the price of your flight goes down after booking. You just have to call them.

5. Be Flexible with Your Dates

Being flexible with your travel dates and searching nearby airports could save you lots of money.  Choosing a flight out of an airport near your first choice for a day earlier or later could help keep more money in your wallet.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec132012

Packed Planes and High Fares for Christmas Travelers

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Planes are full and that means even higher prices for holiday travel. A new report from airline trade group Airlines for America released Thursday shows demand strong and planes flying at 85 to 90 percent capacity over the 21-day holiday travel period.

About 42 million passengers will fly between Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, and Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2013.

Translation: The time for holiday airfare bargains is up. Non-stop ticket prices Christmas week are nearly double what they were at the beginning of the month, and rising by the day.

"Every day you wait for your virtual airline ticket, add about $7 to $8 ... and if you wait until the second week in December you could start adding about $15 a day," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.

The average domestic air fare is now $414, according to Travelocity, nine percent more expensive than last year's holiday season. The most expensive days to fly, up to $500 or more a ticket, are Dec. 21 and 22 and on the return Dec. 30 and 31, and New Years Day.

The cheaper days to fly? Christmas Day, and the three days following. Flying on those days can save as much as $330.

"You're going to sacrifice price for convenience, but you'll also encounter fewer crowds at the airport," said Genevieve Shaw Brown, ABC News Travel and Lifestyle Editor.

Adding injury to the already insulting high holiday fares this season: Baggage. It, too, increases the cost for travelers this holiday season. Airlines charge excess baggage surcharges that start at $90 on top of the now-normal checked bag fee, and the scales at the airport are not always accurate. Use a home scale to make sure your bags aren't overweight., experts advise. "Fees can range wildly from as low as $100 for bags over 50 pounds to over $275 depending on the airline," said Seaney. "It can cost really more than your airline ticket on a short-haul airline flight. The checked bag starts out as $50 round-trip, this [excess bag fee] is on top of that... The only exception to that is JetBlue and Southwest where your first checked bag is free."

An ABC News investigation last year at this time showed five percent of airport scales checked nationwide were off by at least half an ounce, enough to add costs. New York had the highest rates of inaccuracy with 48 troubled scales at JFK alone. San Francisco had 13 off; at Dallas, seven were faulty.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov132012

Cheapest Days to Travel This Thanksgiving 

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to Thanksgiving travel, all days are not created equal.  In fact, when you fly is almost as important as when you book when it comes to one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

Travelocity has compiled its flights data over the Thanksgiving holiday to pinpoint which days are the cheapest -- and most expensive -- to fly.

Next to flying to your destination on Thanksgiving Day and returning the following day (Friday, Nov. 23), the cheapest date combo is departing on Thanksgiving Day and returning the following Tuesday (Nov. 27).

Want to avoid Thanksgiving day for flights altogether?  Your best bet is to depart Monday, Nov. 19, and return the day after Thanksgiving,  Friday, Nov. 23.

And to spare your pocketbook from taking the biggest hit, avoid departing on Friday, Nov. 16, and returning on Saturday, Nov. 24.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

Thanksgiving Airfare: A City-by-City Guide to Prices

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cheap Thanksgiving airfare is going to be harder to come by this year than last -- 9 percent harder, according to some estimates.  That’s how much higher airfare over the holiday is this year than last, according to Travelocity.

The average, round-trip domestic fare is $386, roughly equal to what Americans paid to fly over July 4.  But not all cities are created equal.

Take a look at the chart below to find out how much the average airfare is from the top 20 origination markets over the holiday.  Then, use that number while you’re shopping for flights.  Travelocity calls it “the price to beat.”

The online booking site said you can save up to $288 by being flexible with your travel dates.  The cheapest days to fly are Thanksgiving Day, the Friday following, and Tuesday, Nov. 27.

  • Atlanta - $334
  • Boston - $392
  • Charlotte, N.C. - $352
  • Chicago - $372
  • Dallas / Fort Worth - $360
  • Denver - $349
  • Detroit - $377
  • Houston - $411
  • Indianapolis - $388
  • Los Angeles - $415
  • Milwaukee - $356
  • Minneapolis / St. Paul - $371
  • New York City - $376
  • Orlando, Fla. - $279
  • Philadelphia - $407
  • Pittsburgh - $352
  • Phoenix - $328
  • Portland, Ore. - $328
  • Raleigh / Durham, N.C. - $376
  • San Diego - $410
  • San Francisco - $436
  • Seattle - $424
  • South Florida - $300
  • Tampa / St. Petersburg, Fla. - $293
  • Washington, D.C. - $366

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

Alitalia ‘Mistake’ Fares Gives Free Flights, Then Cancels

Denis Doyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A promo code on Alitalia’s Japanese website over the weekend discounted flights by $315, making some shorter-haul flights free.

Brian Kelly, aka “The Points Guy,” was able to book a flight from Rome to Milan — typically $149 — for free with the promotion code.

“Alitalia has been offering a lot of promotions and discounts recently, so a $315 promo code didn’t seem that strange,” he said.  But Kelly, and all the others who booked flights using the promo code, received emails from the airline stating:

“Thank you for choosing alitalia.com. We regret to inform you that your ticket purchase has not been processed. Any amount debited on your account, will be credited back.”

Kelly is an expert at mileage programs and is no stranger to mistake or “fat finger” fares. He believes the airline intended the promo code to be for flights originating in Japan only.

Alitalia did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

“People took advantage of a promotion code created and launched by the airline, they [the airline] should honor it.  I do think they should be held accountable. Just like consumers are when we book a flight and change our minds, we get penalized, why shouldn’t they? ”

This is far from the first time an airline has published error fares and then not honored them. Over the summer, United Airlines sold flights from New York City to Hong Kong for four miles and $43 and then cancelled the tickets.

But Kelly said some airlines are better about honoring mistake fares than others. Delta Airlines once had a system-wide glitch that dropped all taxes and fuel surcharges from airfare to Stockholm and Copenhagen. The result was flights under $150. Kelly estimates thousands of people took advantage. Delta honored all the tickets.

And despite not honoring this summer’s rock-bottom fares to Hong Kong, United has in the past honored error fares. The airline once dropped a zero from a fare, making business-class fares to Asia $1,000 instead of $10,000. Those people were able to use their tickets.

Even if they’re not always honored, mistake fares are worth keeping an eye out for. Additionally, a new-this-year rule from the Department of Transportation may force U.S. carriers to honor error fares. The rule states, “A purchase occurs when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer. Therefore, if a consumer purchases a fare and that consumer receives confirmation (such as a confirmation email and/or the purchase appears on their credit card statement or online account summary) of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a ‘mistake.’”

Kelly suggests following mileage and airfare experts via their blogs and Twitter to get word of these fares quickly. Acting fast is the key to securing the deals. In addition to his own site ThePointsGuy.com, he also recommends TheFlightDeal.com.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Thanksgiving Airfares Up, Flights Filling Up Fast

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re planning to fly to see friends or family this Thanksgiving, prepare to pay more.

On many routes, airfares are higher than they were last year and well above prices paid in 2010.

Holiday flights are filling up fast, says Jeanenne Tornatore with Orbitz Travel: “I would suggest booking by at least the end of October for your Thanksgiving, and Christmas should be soon after that.”

"We typically see the lower airfares on the off-peak travel days," she says.

Peak travel days -- the days with the highest fares -- include the day before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday and Monday.

“Over Christmas the busiest and most expensive travel days will be Sunday, Dec. 23, and Wednesday, Dec. 26,” Tornatore says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep252012

Las Vegas Airline Would Let Flyers Gamble on Prices

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- With all the angst that goes into buying an airline ticket -- Am I too early or too late? Do I wait until the last minute or purchase far in advance? What about the fees? -- purchasing airfare can feel like a bit of a gamble.

But one Las Vegas carrier wants to raise the stakes, so to speak.  In a plan outlined in Bloomberg Business Week, Allegiant Air is considering a pricing structure where customers can either lock in a price or choose an adjustable ticket price based on fuel price fluctuations before travel.

In other words, fliers would have to pay more if fuel goes up or would get a partial refund if fuel goes down.

Allegiant Air relies more on leisure travelers than other carriers, with a presence in several Florida markets, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Hawaii and Las Vegas. The dependence on leisure fliers means it’s more exposed to fuel prices than airlines who have higher-paying business travelers to shoulder fuel cost increases.

The new pricing structure is at least six months away, according to Bloomberg Business Week. The airline’s CEO said that even if the plan passed muster with regulators, the technology isn’t in place. “We as a company are not ready for it mostly because our automation is not ready,” said airline CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr.

Getting the plan past regulators may be no small task.  Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation issued several new rules to provide clarity in airfare pricing for consumers, including disclosing all taxes and fees up front. While a plan such as Allegiant Air’s wasn’t specifically addressed, it doesn’t conform to the overarching goal of making airfare easier for the average consumer to understand.

But, the DOT told Bloomberg, “Our rules do not prohibit airlines and ticket agents from selling tickets in which passengers pay part of the fare immediately and the rest later, with the final payment dependent on changes in fuel or other costs.” As Bloomberg points out, some tour operators operate similarly, with a sale structured in partial payments.

It’s clear Allegiant Air, like the rest of the airline industry, is looking for creative ways to increase the bottom line. Allegiant became the second domestic carrier to charge for carry-on bags. (Spirit Airlines, another airline largely dependent on leisure travelers, was the first.)

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Hotel Rates Drop in 20 European Destinations

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Travelers know that fall is one of the best times to visit Europe: It's cheaper than summer, less crowded than summer and still-great weather for sightseeing.

But some experts say this fall in particular is ripe for deals in Europe.  It may in fact be the best time for Americans to visit Europe in years.

Hotel prices across the continent are down -- in some places, close to 40 percent compared to last fall.  Pierre-Etienne Chartier, vice president of the Hotwire Group, said this fall's hotel rates are the lowest in years.

According to Hotwire booking data, 20 of Europe's most popular destinations have had a drop in hotel rates compared to last year, three-quarters of those in the double-digits.  Cities like Prague, Geneva and Budapest are up to 37 percent less expensive this year than last.

Popular European cities like Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and Rome are seeing their lowest hotel prices on Hotwire in more than five years.  Average room rates in Prague, Budapest, Glasgow, Seville, Lisbon, Dublin, Valencia and Athens are all under $100 per night.

Chartier said the drop in prices could be, at least in part, attributed to the summer games.  It wasn't just London that created more hotel rooms.  Nearby European cities, anticipating an influx of travelers pre- and post-Olympics did the same -- to the tune of 11,000 rooms.  Those travelers didn't materialize and now the hotels are hoping to fill rooms through discounting.

Another reason for the price slashing is the European debt crisis. Locals, said Chartier, are being "more frugal with their money and discretionary spending."  With fewer Europeans traveling domestically, more hotel rooms are sitting empty, prompting hoteliers to discount room rates on travel booking sites.

For the past few years, Americans, Chartier said, have been in recovery mode and were starting to increase their spending. "Now," he said, "that trend is reversing."

But for Americans who do want to travel to Europe, "It's been a while since the opportunities were this good," Chartier said.

Airfare too, is showing signs of softness.  Hotwire said airfare to Europe is about level with last year, though a few destinations are cheaper.  Berlin, Dublin, Helsinki and Valencia are all cheaper to fly to this fall than last.

Travelocity air booking data showed that overall, airfare from the U.S. to Western Europe is virtually unchanged from last fall. Travelers can expect to pay about $1,060 round-trip, including taxes. Airfare is about 20 percent less now than it was during the summer months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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