Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ouch! Holiday Airfares Up Again

I've spent much of the last week trying to convince you, dear reader, not to head home to see the family this Thanksgiving.

Well, it seems the airlines have joined my "cause", though their methods are likely more persuasive than the simple keyboard I weild. In short, the airlines are going to stick it to those who try to fly over both the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holiday period, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Reporter Hugo Martin, backed up by a number of industry muckymucks, has found that fares for these periods will be 6% to 12% higher than last year.

If you can get them, that is. Because of decreased capacity, many flights are sold out or near sold out.

In fairness to the airlines, they're raising prices because they have to, having had losses 7 out of the last 10 quarters. The surging price of fuel, up 40% in the last year according to Martin, doesn't help either.

So are the prices horrific? I actually have some first-hand experience in this topic, because last night I helped my mother book a round-trip from New York to Chicago. As I've complained here before, she's a last-minute decider, and mistakes me for a travel agent, so I spend a fair amount of time trying to fix the messes her lack of planning cause.

In this case, she decided to attend a family gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving, flying out that Saturday and back on the Tuesday before Turkey day. We huddled around my computer and finally found a flight on Delta into O'Hare (she didn't want to go to Midway because it was too far from her cousin's house) for $243. It would have been less had she been willing to accept an early morning flight, but she's not only a late-decider, she's a late-sleeper, so that was out of the question.

Frankly, I didn't think $243 for that week was too bad. But when I went to pick her seat, I saw how lucky we'd been that she hadn't procrastinated any longer. On the first flight, there were only 5 middle seats left. On Tuesday's return she had a choice of 7 middle seats.

This is all a long way of saying: don't emulate Mom! If you're thinking of traveling this holiday season, make your bookings now. Its only going to get uglier.


  1. One thing that I always wonder about is how the budget airlines in Europe can make money.I always can find a $25 ow flight in Europe and those budgets manage to thrive there.Same thing with Eurolines vs Greyhound or the trains.
    No doubt there are a lot of domestic bargains too
    but in general their bargains beat our bargains and are easier to find. Travel Rob

  2. Extra fees! Yes, Ryanair will sell some tickets at 2 euros, but then it charges 50 euros to check a bag and only allows the tiniest bags as carry-ons. There are also fees for not printing your own boarding pass, not using a credit card branded Ryanair, etc. etc. These are some of the ways. They also sell advertising space on board the flight. And on Ryanair, they encourage passengers to gamble with a game they do!

  3. EasyJet has been pretty good to me in not charging Extra fees.Normally I can print out their boarding passes way in advance ,so they don't even check the size of the carryon. And I've used some of the others recently with little problems. To me Ryan Air is a lot like our Spirit Air.A lot of fine print and charges. BTW- Airfarewatchdog has a UK site too,and I often look at that sites top 50 fares. Travel Rob