Want to know where airfares are headed this summer? Just ask the experts.
Peter sat down with AirfareWatchdog‘s George Hobica to discuss the future of summer travel, along with some too-good-to-be-true bargains.
Peter Greenberg: Let’s talk about some generally bad news. With airlines cutting capacity, with airfares going up because of fuel charges, this could be a very long, hot summer.
George Hobica: Fares have been creeping up. But the airlines have had some sales that just are mind-blowing. They are kind of like pop-up stores or pop-up restaurants. I call them “pop-up fares.” They pop up and then they disappear, but if you grab them in time they are just amazing. I’m talking about Philadelphia to Europe for $130 round trip, including tax.
PG: Wait a second, including tax? That means that the airfare had to be a dollar.
GH: Including tax. These fares lasted for a few hours. They’ve been coming pretty regularly every couple of months. We saw Southwest in Newark to San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco for $79 each way on Southwest for July travel. It lasted about three hours and then it went back up to $400.
PG: The other day I had to get somebody from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. I called the airline to ask about coach airfare. It was $440 for an airplane ride that lasts 38 minutes. Then I had to get somebody else from Los Angeles to New York on the same day, same airline, and it was $278 round trip.
GH: Crazy, isn’t it? Last-minute fares are up. By the way Spirit Airlines, has Los Angeles to Las Vegas for $2 plus tax, plus a convenience fee for using their Web site for a total of $39 round trip on a Tuesday or Wednesday. They just started that service. I know people don’t want to fly Spirit, but I guess I’d do it for a short flight.
PG: You know what? If it’s a very short flight, if I’m a member of the witness relocation program, and if I have no luggage, I would take Spirit.
Learn more: Spirit’s New Carry-On Baggage Charges
GH: But the story is, yes, fares are going up. In some cases they are astronomical. However, I think they’ve reached a limit. I think that the consumer is staying home or they are going to drive. We’ve seen some pull back on the fares and we’ve also seen the number of seats filled per plane go down. So I think that we’re not going to see them go much, much higher. It’s a great time to use your frequent-flier miles too. I just got tickets to Europe on British Airways. They have an offer now: 100,000 miles on British Airways and I just got a first-class ticket to Europe for the dates that I wanted. I had to pay taxes and their credit card costs $95 a year, but still, that’s like a $14,000 fare.
PG: George, I’m going to have page Mr. Ripley because that qualifies under believe it or not.
GH: I was surprised. Normally when I try to use British Airways miles I don’t get the dates. I got the exact dates I wanted in August in first class and also business class.
Get the latest news on frequent-flier programs in the Mileage & Reward Programs section
PG: There are only a few people that have more mileage than I do, so all my mileage is suitable for framing because that is where it ends up going. I can never get anywhere that I need to go except Des Moines at midnight on a Wednesday when I don’t want to go there.
GH: I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe there are so many complaints that they’re loosening up their policy, but I was shocked.
PG: We’ve got the Royal Wedding coming up in less than two weeks and London is not filling up. But all of these hotels are doing over-the-top wedding packages thinking everyone is going to show up like an Olympics event. Unless you’re a member of the Royal Family and bringing all your friends and family to one particular hotel there area lot of empty hotel rooms in London right now. You’re going to see some discounting starting to happen in the next seven days that you won’t believe. And maybe that’s reflective of the fact that you got your airfare.
GH: Possibly. As you know it is very hard to spend your miles in the summer, especially on certain months. But I really encourage people to sign up for our fare alert and Twitter. It is a way for people to learn information very, very quickly, that is much faster than email.
By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio.
Related Links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- Shame On The FAA: Flying With Kids Under The Age of 2
- Spirit’s New Carry-On Baggage Charges
- Airline Fee Analysis: Southwest Versus Spirit
- What The Battle Between Airlines & Online Travel Agencies Means For Travelers
- Delta’s Management, Continental Gets Economy Plus, Boeing’s Cabin Improvements
- Fear Factor In Air Travel Industry Yields Gloomy Projections Amid Recession
- Air Travel News: Airlines & Airports section
- Mileage & Reward Programs section