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Airfare Price Hikes: Could 2011 Break a Record?

February 25, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Multimedia | 0 comments

Airfare Price Hikes - Could 2011 Break a Record

Did you know we’ve already had five airfare hikes so far this year? That’s more than we had in 2010 (four) and more than in 2009 (three).

Yes, you can still save on airfare – but be prepared to be more flexible than ever. That means the following:

  • Sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts and be prepared to fly when you get a good deal
  • Fly during the week – it’ll be lots cheaper than flying on Friday or Sunday  

See me explain more about what’s going on in this Associated Press video report on rising oil prices.

To Fly or Not to Fly – Good Deals and Bad Deals

February 24, 2011 | Posted in: Deals,Destinations,Multimedia,Security | 0 comments

To Fly or Not to Fly - Good Deals and Bad Deals

Ever wonder if certain places are safe to fly to?

Maybe a destination you’d normally never consider, but what if you see a super good deal – what then?

That was the topic of my weekly column for ABCNews.com yesterday – called, “To Fly or Not to Fly” and I’ve got lots of advice on the subject.

I also talked about the issue of cheap flights vs. security on Good Morning Texas today, plus I examined some specific airfare deals and pronounced them “good deals” or “bad deals”. It was fun – take a look:

Another Airfare Hike – Summer Vacation Travelers Take Note!

February 24, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Deals,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Another Airfare Hike - Summer Vacation Travelers Take Note!

When it rains, it pours…and by that I mean, more domestic airfare hikes.

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, Feb. 23), United/Continental filed a $20 roundtrip fuel surcharge on the bulk of this merging airline’s domestic route system.

Later in the evening, American Airlines matched this by raising their base fares by a similar amount. This is the fifth broad-based hike attempt of 2011; the previous four met with various levels of succcess.

Bottom line: It’s going to be a little harder to find airfare deals this summer, but whenever there are any – we at FareCompare will have them. So do yourself a favor and sign up for our airfare alerts right now. You will be glad you did.

$10 Domestic Airfare Hike Sticks and Another Business Class Hike Attempt

February 22, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

$10 Airfare Hike and Business Class Hike

Friday’s $10 roundtrip airfare hike attempt initiated by Southwest Airlines (the fourth broad-based domestic hike this year) was quickly matched over the weekend by all domestic airlines.

It also appears that legacy airlines are adamant about raising the domestic price point for business travelers who buy tickets at the last minute or squeeze into the last seats on oversold flights.

Yesterday afternoon (Monday, February 12), American Airlines initiated a hike of $20 to $60 roundtrip on “walk-up” fares – again, the kind of fares last minute business travelers buy with a same-day advance price that can approach $1000 roundtrip. Later that evening, it was matched by United/Continental, and today Delta and US Airways joined in. Note that this is on the heels of last week’s similar airfare hike attempt, that ultimately collapsed.

Interestingly, the pace of recent domestic airfare hikes almost exactly mirrors those which occurred in the same time period of late 2007 and early 2008 – when oil prices leapt into the mid $90’s per barrel. The big difference today, however, is that airline baggage fees and widespread peak travel surcharges hadn’t been a staple in the total amount travelers shelled out for air travel.

We will update with any significant changes if and when they occur.

Your Summer Airfare Just Got More Expensive

February 16, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

US Airways Airfare Sale Europe

Here’s the latest, and it’s not happy news: On Monday, the FareCompare proprietary airfare processing system noted significant increases in domestic airline ticket prices for both business and leisure passengers.

Business travelers are accustomed to paying a hefty premium for the “luxury” of booking travel at the last minute (inside 14 days of departure) on schedule-friendly nonstop flights while leaving the cheaper seats for leisure travelers who can book earlier.

Monday, Delta initiated a domestic business airfare hike – effective immediately – of between $40 and $120 roundtrip that was widely matched by other legacy airlines in the ensuing 24 hours. This hike on walkup and last minute departures follows on the heels of a similar hike last week on business travelers who typically pay more than $800 round-trip for their tickets.

More importantly for cost-conscious leisure travelers, Monday airlines also began putting “travel date” fences on their cheapest airfare so that discounted seats could only be purchased through mid June, thereby bumping the cheapest summer ticket base prices by as much as $250 roundtrip (see the examples below for New York departures):

On top of these “base” domestic price increases for summer departures, airlines also continue to file “peak travel” surcharges for summer departure dates of between $20 and $60 roundtrip – with the higher amounts on the busiest departure days of the week.

The question for consumers is whether prices will come down in the following months as airlines begin to more actively manage summer inventory – or, on the flip side, might airfare prices get worse?

We are nearing the historical sweet spot for summer travelers looking to score a deal on domestic tickets who shop in earnest about 3-and-a-half months before departure – the time frame when airlines tend to start offering up some cheaper seats in order gauge demand in comparison to their historical booking models.

It is likely that early bird shoppers will be shell-shocked when getting quotes for summer travel so waiting may be their only option. One thing that is always helpful is to sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts and if prices on the trips you’re interested come down, we’ll let you know in real time.

Meanwhile, with volatility of jet fuel prices and the reticence of airlines to increase capacity coupled with firming demand, it is not hard to imagine a summer of some the highest airline ticket prices in years.

We’ll keep you updated.

Thanks, Kevin Smith. For tackling a touchy airline topic.

February 9, 2011 | Posted in: Passengers,Southwest | 0 comments

Kevin Smith Loses Weight

Kevin Smith has lost 65 pounds.

You remember Kevin Smith; he’s the Hollywood writer/director who was ousted from a Southwest flight last year because he was deemed too large for his seat – even though (as Smith pointed out), he was seated with armrests down and seatbelt buckled as per airline policy.

So Smith did what anyone would do if they were unhappy and wanted everyone to know about it; he tweeted. To all his followers – all 1.6 million of them.

Recently, Smith told CNN’s Joy Behar that he’s lost a lot of weight. That’s quite an achievement. But I’d rather applaud him – and thank him – for something else:

Kevin, in his own unique way, brought a very touchy subject to light last year; one that the airlines still don’t want to touch with a 30 foot pole* and he did so even though that meant subjecting himself to a barrage of “too-fat-to-fly” stories. Unfortunately, since then, the airlines haven’t provided much clarity on the issue of “passengers of size” – a favorite airline euphemism. So, there’s little incentive for those who really do need two seats, to purchase them; they know the airlines will accommodate them if there’s an empty seat.

Of course, these days, there’s no guarantee of an extra empty seat on any plane. As Kevin Smith found out last year.

*My editor asked Southwest to comment; if we hear anything, we’ll let you know.

Photo of Kevin Smith from CNN.com

Airline Fees + Internet = Disaster (Now and Then)

February 8, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Passengers | 0 comments

Airline Fees Internet Disaster

You may have heard me talk about how we’re in the midst of a new “Airline Fee Generation” – with fees for all kinds of services we used to get for nothing (and please see our Domestic Airline Fee Chart is this is new to you).

Anyway, dozens of Belgian students apparently weren’t up to date on all the fees imposed by Dublin-based airline Ryanair, and got blindsided at the airport (they were asked to pay an additional $47 for oversized and/or overweight carryon bags). When they raised a stink about it – some called it a “mutiny” – they were dumped from the flight.

I can guess what happened; while governments have tried (sometimes successfully) to legislate full disclosure on fees, let’s face it – internet users are notorious for not reading the fine print.

Hey, we’re all guilty of this from time to time; for instance, how many times have you gone to iTunes and clicked “accept” without reading up on their new policies? I thought so.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: know before you go.

Ask Rick Seaney…What? Tell Me.

February 7, 2011 | Posted in: Ask Rick,Tips and Tricks | 0 comments

Welcome to Dallas Bad Weather Flights

I do a fair number of media appearances; so many, that some might accuse me of being an air hog, but the reason I do these broadcast and print interviews is because I genuinely enjoy sharing my knowledge.

Plus, after all these years, I still get a kick out of it any time I can save someone a little of their hard-earned cash (and I love it when I can save someone a lot of money).

So, I chat with reporters around the country. This week, for example, I’ll talk airfare via Skype with some of the folks at WKYC which is the NBC TV affiliate in Cleveland. They want to know, among other things, when is the best time to shop for airfare (short answer: Tuesday at 3pm Eastern). Which got me wondering:

What are the questions you’d like to ask me? What airfare tips and tricks are you most interested in? Tell me on Facebook; I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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