High airfares persist as demand remains high, but one travel expert told WTOP there are still ways to save.
CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said airfares will remain expensive because airlines have been cutting back in some respects, even though people are still looking to travel.
“Airlines are shrinking capacity; they’re reallocating their airplanes to other regions that are not in the United States,” he said. “A lot of airlines have cut or completely eliminated service to many U.S. cities. And as a result, with the demand not decreasing, we are now living in the supply and demand rule where those prices have nowhere to go but up.”
He also said some airlines are deciding to cut back because some of these routes are no longer economically viable.
“Those 50-seat regional jets are so costly to operate right now based on pilot salary, bonuses, cost of fuel, other costs of operation that in order for them to turn a profit, they have to be 95% full before they can do that. Well that just doesn’t make any sense,” Greenberg said.
Try France instead of Fort Lauderdale
To save some money on spring or summer travel, Greenberg recommended travelers look at flights to Europe.
“Instead of Fort Lauderdale, try France. And the reason for that is the power of the U.S. dollar against the euro and so much competition now across the North Atlantic. Airlines have doubled — in some cases tripled — down on their service across that body of water,” Greenberg said.
He said some round-trip fares across the pond only cost $398.
For travelers who want to save while looking to stay domestic, look for pop-up fare sales on airlines like Southwest Airlines and Breeze Airways, with some sale fares starting as low as $29.
Beware ‘junk’ fees
But look out for extra fees on many of those low-cost carriers, Greenberg said.
“They’re going to charge you for everything short of breathing, in terms of fees,” he said. “We heard President Biden talk about the junk fees. Well, those low fare airlines — that’s the festival of junk fees. So, you have to be at least aware of that when budgeting your trip.”
The cheapest fares from D.C. airports can be found going to Midwest cities, Greenberg said. He also said traveling during the “shoulder months” — April, May, September, October and November — could save you some money on airfare this year.
One bit of good news for travelers is that many are combining leisure and business trips, which could benefit consumers, according to Greenberg.
“The one thing that left the whole world of travel during the pandemic is seasonality, we’re no longer planning our summer travel or spring travel,” he said. “We’re combining our leisure trips with our business travel. So the original models of traveling and pricing have been turned upside down and that, in the long-run, can only benefit travelers.”