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Travel Tip: The Truth about Route Consolidation

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Over the years, we’ve watched as airlines have consolidated into just four major carriers. This isn’t great news for travelers, and I’ll tell you why. Fewer airlines to choose from means less competition, and now it means fewer routes.

Between 2007 and 2012 U.S. carriers cut domestic flights by 14 percent. And it’s the smaller and medium hubs that really got nailed.

A study from MIT found that departures at medium airports dropped a whopping 26 percent; service at smaller airports was cut by 18 percent.

Let’s look at history as our guide: When St. Louis was a hub for TWA, experts projected nothing but growth. But then American absorbed TWA. Since 2005, traffic has dropped 36 percent and the main carrier is…Southwest.

In 2005, Cincinnati’s airport had a high of about 700 flights a day. Now it’s closer 185.

Those cutbacks mean more connections, longer layovers, and rising airfare.

My advice: Book flights early this summer and if you’re talking about a trip of under 300 miles, consider alternative transportation, like the train…or even the bus.

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