Here we go again.
The latest airfare hike attempt was launched last night by United/Continental (its merger was officially “closed” in October of 2010 but they still operate under two different names for the moment); this was the 12th attempted hike of the year and it covered the bulk of these airlines’ respective route systems.
This was a “laddered” airfare hike – the first we’ve seen in awhile. It works like this:
United/Continental added $6 to roundtrip routes of less that 1,000 miles and $10 roundtrip to longer routes.
Let’s see who will be the first to “match” these hikes. We’ll keep you updated.
Cheap Flights to Vegas
If you haven’t seen my latest “Airfare Expert” column in USA Today, I’ll give you a short version here, but do check it out; I think you’ll enjoy the behind-the-scenes insider info on airfares.
1. Are airfares to Las Vegas rising?
Yes, they are and you can blame rising fuel prices. Look for summer airfare to be about 10% higher than last year.
Want to save on flights to Vegas? See this FareCompare exclusive: Cheap Flights to Las Vegas: Air Travel Cheat Sheet
2. What airlines are best for Vegas?
Discount airline Allegiant is big in Vegas from a number of smaller towns, and Spirit has increased the number of its daily seats to Sin City by almost 240%. Warning: if you don’t pack carefully, you could get stung by the discount carriers’ relatively high baggage fees.
3. When to buy flights to Las Vegas?
Book your airline tickets for June travel now, but wait a few more weeks if you’re planning to fly in July (especially the latter part of the month). As always, the cheapest day to shop for airfare to Vegas – or any U.S. domestic city – is Tuesday at about 3pm eastern time. Also note: the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
UPDATE (4-20): The hike sticks; chalk up another airfare hike in the “success” category.
UPDATE (4-19-11): Late last night, American Airlines and JetBlue matched the $10 roundtrip hike, and today they were joined by United/Continental. Alaska Airlines has matched on part of its route system. Still on the sidelines: Southwest, AirTran and US Airways.
This morning (4-18-11), Delta Air Lines launched a new $10 roundtrip domestic airfare hike across the bulk of its U.S. route system.
This is the 11th attempted domestic hike this year; the first six “stuck” meaning they were successful, but the most recent four collapsed after initial matching by legacy airlines (please see my “hike timeline” below).
That’s not all: last week, legacy airlines modified a slew of summer departures on domestic routes with a $20 roundtrip hike for travel between June 9 and August 21. Moreover, some legacy airlines are tinkering with their peak summer travel surcharges to maintain competitive equilibrium.
What this means is that the airline that first raises prices must get competitors to match (and relatively quickly) or that first airline risks winding up on page five of results on airline ticket price comparison sites – as Delta did after it raised prices earlier today – which effectively puts it “out of sight, out of mind” for many online shoppers. And this adds up, since ticket search sites garner millions of searches a day.
When airlines on are the wrong side of this competitive equilibrium, it is akin to being temporarily pulled from comparison sites (or pulling out of them by choice) – not unlike what we’ve seen with that ongoing situation between American Airlines and Orbitz
My latest airfare column for USA Today is about finding deals to Orlando. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a down-and-dirty version, but please see Airfare Expert: Scoring a cheap ticket to Orlando for all the behind-the-scenes details (plus some fascinating charts).
Which airline to fly to Orlando?
Chances are good you’ll fly a low-cost airline to Orlando. Southwest alone controls about 25% of all seats to Orlando and together, Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue fly half of all the seats.
When to buy tickets to Orlando?
Quick answer: buy as soon as possible, but not too early. If you buy more than three months before departure you may pay more.
Shop for cheap flights to Orlando on Tuesdays
Tuesday is the best time to start shopping, specifically Tuesday at 3 pm Eastern. We know this because an airline typically launches a sale on Monday evening, and by the following afternoon, other airlines have matched the discounts to stay competitive. Note: these airfare sales typically last three days, meaning your optimal shopping window is Tuesday to Thursday. If you shop on the weekend, you will probably pay more.
Cheapest days and times to fly to Orlando?
Many of the lowest fares to Orlando are restricted to departures on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, which are typically the cheapest days to fly to any U.S. destination. If this doesn’t work for your schedule, try to fly on at least one of these days, so you reap a partial cost benefit.
Don’t forget the baggage fees
Figure on $50 per person per checked-bag unless you fly the “free bag” airlines: JetBlue and Southwest. Personally, I always use a carryon.
Try this, too: sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts, and we’ll let you know when prices drop on flights to Orlando – or anywhere you want to go.
Did you catch my latest airfare hike report from last week?
Yes, the airlines are doing it again – raising their ticket prices. This is the tenth attempt so far this year and it sure won’t be the last.
Take a look at another exclusive from yours truly called, 10th Domestic Airfare Hike Attempt of 2011 and then take my advice: do not delay getting your summer vacation airfare. TIP: If you’d normally wait until a couple of weeks before departure to get your airline tickets, don’t – not this year. Buy at least a month ahead of time and you can shop (and maybe buy, if the price looks right) about three months ahead.
Need some ideas? Check out the FareCompare Getaway Map to see at a glance the cheapest destinations from your airport. Once you know where you’d like to go, set some airfare alerts and we’ll tell you instantly when the best deals come along.
Just noticed a nice little write up on FareCompare from my folks at the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia (hat tip to reporter Daniel Sieberg of KYW NewsRadio).
Here’s the glowing review of FareCompare:
“Not only does it look at the best deal on a particular date, it also turns the planet into a wealth of potential destination spots. There’s an app component that can alert you when a great deal pops up and help you book your future getaway. Just be sure to have your passport handy while visiting the site.”
How can you have such “wealth” at your fingertips?
- Destination Tip #1: If you want to see a wealth of destinations, take a look at the FareCompare Getaway Map. It’s a great way to help you figure out where you’d like to go for your next destination.
- Destination Tip #2: Use our technology to get deals from your airport via Twitter – just http://www.farecompare.com/when-to-fly/twitter/, and we tweet great deals – in real time – directly to you.
These tips really work: a whole bunch of people recently learned via FareCompare tweets about terrific airfare deals from their home airports to Hawaii – you don’t want to miss out on that, do you? I didn’t think so.
Just in case you missed my latest column for USA Today on finding deals to Hawaii, I thought I’d give you the short-but-sweet version here:
When to fly to Hawaii?
Look for discounted fares in the spring and fall. I’m sorry to say you probably won’t see many deals on summer airfare this year, but sign up for the FareCompare Airfare Alerts so that if there are good deals, you’ll hear about them first.
What are airfares like?
Think of flights to Hawaii in terms of distance: if you look at it that way, the airfare compares very favorably to Europe. Prices to Hawaii also look good next to many Caribbean destinations.
When to shop and buy airfare for Hawaii?
First, start early to get a feel for prices – but be flexible enough to be able to grab a sale when one comes along. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see last minute sales (but in case we do, you’ve already signed up for airfare alerts, right?) but you can sometimes pick up award seats at the last minute even if you tried redeeming those miles 11 months ago with no luck. When you’re ready, the best time to buy is Tuesday at 3pm eastern time.
What else to know about flying to Hawaii?
The California Connection: There are about 500,000 airline seats flown to Hawaii each month from the mainland, with nearly half of them originating in two cities — Los Angeles and San Francisco. For those keeping score, there are only 20 mainland cities total with nonstop flights to the islands. No nonstops from your neck of the woods? Look for cheap flights to LAX or SFO. And yes, you’d be smart to sign up for airfare alerts to those cities, too.
UPDATE (4/6/11): The 9th attempted domestic airfare hike of 2011 has failed. The final remnants (price increases) were rolled back yesterday afternoon, making this the third consecutive airfare hike to end in failure.
Airfare Rising: The airlines are trying to raise airfare prices for the ninth time this year – and if you’ve been paying attention, then you know that most of the hikes have been successful.
Check out my latest exclusive on this new airfare hike attempt – and I really want you to take a look at the pretty amazing graphic on airfare prices over the past couple of years. It’ll give you an oh-so-clear picture of what’s happening (and likely, what to expect).
What can you do? Well, at FareCompare, we’ll always show you the best prices available, but I urge you to sign up for our free, real-time airfare alerts. It’s so simple, and we do the work for you – letting you know when prices on trips you’re interested in come down.