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Why Airfare Reporting/Articles Drive Me Crazy

September 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Fuel Surcharges | 0 comments

I was reading a widely picked up Associated Press (AP) airfare story (via USA Today) this morning which was further highlighted in one of my favorite blogs “Today in the Sky” (Ben Mutazbaugh).

The premise and title of the article is that airfares are not up in some places “Airfares Aren’t Taking Off Everywhere”.

As I read the report what caught my eye first was the lead statement that there has been 22 airfare increases this year (not true there has been 22 system wide legacy airline attempted increases this year with 15 successes as documented in my blog in excruciating detail using our proprietary software – and not credited in the story — Update: AP contacted me to note there was a graphic with the info — crediting us — but it did not make the wire story.

Regardless of that small oversight (after all it is presidentialTV ad campaign season) what had me befuddled was the statement that “business fares were down for New York and Phoenix” – my first thought was that this would be awfully difficult since domestic fuel surcharges for business fares are up over $100 compared to last year (I recently posted a comprehensive domestic airline ticket fuel surcharge report). The only way this could be true is if the report they used didn’t include fuel surcharges (likely) in the price or that base prices were down $100 (unlikely)– (nor did they mention the fact that checked bag fees could apply to some business travelers also driving up out-the-door prices).

Of course now that I was curious a wrote a couple of database queries to pull last years and this year’s business airfare prices (3 day advance purchase) for New York and Phoenix from our historical databases (one the world’s largest) to the top 25 cities by traffic and this is what I found (average of cheapest price for every day in September for 3 day advance purchase — includes fuel surcharge and 7.5% sales tax):

While not up sharply compared to the rest of the country — certainly not “down”. It should be noted that outside the top 25 cities prices are up very sharply.

Hard Times for Sun Country: 50% Pay Cuts

September 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News,News | 0 comments

Sun Country Airline execs told their workers their pay will be cut in half starting next week.

It also told them they’d be reimbursed for those cuts – in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Chairman and CEO of the airline’s parent company, Petters Group Worldwide, resigned yesterday – he is the target of a federal fraud investigation.

No surprise here: Sun Country employees’ unions have not endorsed the pay cut plan.

TIP: Finding out the Real Cost of Your Airfare (Fuel Surcharges and All)

September 30, 2008 | Posted in: Fuel Surcharges,Tips and Tricks | 0 comments

Finding out the total cost of your airline ticket can be a bit difficult – often, you don’t learn until the very last minute that your $300 “bargain” actually costs a whole lot more.

This is especially true if you’re looking at overseas flights, where fuel surcharges can be truly frightening.

You want the total cost up-front – and I can help. Just follow this simple tip:

Check out my U.S. Airline Fuel Surcharge Report and the International Airline Fuel Surcharge Report: you can tell at a glance the average fuel surcharge for each airline, and even what the average fuel surcharge is fro a transatlantic flight compared to a trans-Pacific flight. This is information you need before you shell out your hard earned money.

Over at British Airways, they’ve been discussing how to best incorporate fuel surcharges into published fares; and Chris Elliott says the European Parliament approved a new rule mandating that “airfares have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price” which could go into effect as early as the end of this year.

But by using my domestic or international fuel surcharge reports, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Conde Nast Traveler: Best Airline and Airport (Some True Surprises)

September 29, 2008 | Posted in: Favorites,List | 0 comments

The Road Warriors have spoken – and according to Traveler magazine, these are their favorites (and tell me if you agree or not):

Best U.S. Airports:

  • 1. Portland, Oregon
  • 2. Tampa
  • 3. Washington – Reagan

Best International Airports:

  • 1. Singapore
  • 2. Hong Kong
  • 3. Amsterdam

Best U.S. Routes – Airlines with Business/First Class Service:

  • 1. Virgin America
  • 2. Alaska
  • 3. Continental

Best U.S. Routes – Airlines with Single Class Service:

  • 1. Midwest
  • 2. JetBlue
  • 3. Frontier

See the entire list right here.

FORECAST: Fewer Airline Seats to Las Vegas – And Fewer Bargains

September 29, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News,Forecast | 1 comment

Not good news for Las Vegas.

According to Merrill Lynch analysts, “abundant, cheap seat capacity to Las Vegas — a thing of the past”.

Airlines will continue their capacity cuts into next year and watch capacity (seats) drop another 6+ percent this quarter and another 16 percent by the end of December.

Las Vegas cuts are more severe than in other markets because Vegas visitors tend to be “price sensitive leisure travelers and conventioneers/business travelers”.

Bad news, not just for the passengers, but for the people who run the casinos and the hotels and restaurants: as capacity cuts continue, airfare is expected to rise, and Vegas visitors will have less to spend on all the “fun stuff”.

Let me just add, there will always be some bargains – and you can always rely on us to help you find the cheapest airfare.

Still Up for Grabs: Name the New Terminal at Detroit Metro

September 29, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | 0 comments

Just noticed that the “naming rights” for the terrific new terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport are still up for grabs.

Right now it goes by the less than euphonious “North Terminal” – but for an estimated $40 million, you can name it what you like.

Our sister blog has already suggested slapping sponsorship-type decals on planes, but I’m not sure the airport is ready for that; other, more sober-minded types suggested last Spring that likely names would include “banks and financial institutions” – but since the meltdown on Wall St., I don’t think so – I’m sure we all remember Enron Field

What would you call it? I’m up for the serious and the silly.

Continental Reverses, Okays 500 Mile Minimum for “Elite” Fliers

September 26, 2008 | Posted in: Ask Rick,Frequent Flyer | 1 comment

Recently I did a study on the effect of legacy airlines removing the 500-mile frequent flier mile minimum after Continental announced that it was only going to give credit for exact mileage flown (following similar moves by United and US Airways).

Continental is now reversing this recent decision to its frequent flier program – for some of its passengers.

But here’s the catch: this reversal only affects Continental’s “elite passengers” (those who fly at least 25,000 miles in a year).

FYI: I perused the websites of US Airways and United this morning, since they too had rescinded the 500-mile minimum – was curious to see if they were going to follow Continental’s lead – but so far, I can’t find any evidence that they have.

Analyst Says, Airline Travel is “Luxury Good”

September 26, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News,Forecast | 1 comment

Saw this article in BusinessWeek, and wondered if you had the same take as I did.

An analyst from Stifel Nicolaus & Co. (who just announced this week they would be covering airlines) said airlines will likely be profitable over the next couple of years, because of all the things they’re doing, including capacity cuts.

But he also says, the high fuel prices will help make airline travel a “mid-priced luxury good”.

Joe Sharkey also seems to agree about this prediction of travel only for the “rich”.

If this premise is actually accurate then their could be a big problem as it was noted recently that “premium airline traffic” is down with the suit and tie crowd as the financial meltdown continues.

I agreeairfares are getting higher, i see tens of thousands roll buy a day,but I believe air travel will continue to be part of the fabric of our lives – for business and leisure. I am not buying into this concept quite yet. The trick for road warriors and vacationers will be to find the bargains – but then, that’s why there’s FareCompare.com – try us and see.

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