US air travel fares high during holiday season

Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 4:22 by Aviation Correspondent

Air travel more expensive in the US this holiday season, says FareCompare

The current holiday season will see many travelers paying up to half as much more than the actual price of the tickets. According to reports quoting industry analysts, this year has seen an increase of about 59% increase in the fare price than for the pre-Thanksgiving period last year and about 40% higher than the pre-Christmas period. These figures come from the FareCompare travel site.

Sources at the site, which has been analysing the fare changes, say that domestic prices, which had hit a low during May 2009 have now steadily come up. They say this is mainly due to the fact that passengers who has curtailed their air travel due to the economic crisis have now resumed availing of air transportation. Simultaneously there has been a general reduction of the number of seats offered by airlines, as part of their cost cutting measures.

As it stands now, domestic travel fares have seen a rise by 17% for travel late this month, when compared to rates of last December and early January 2010. The analysis of fares between 50 cities in America was done by the travel site at the request of USA Today.

Another well known online travel agent, Orbitz concurs with this observation. They have analyzed three major routes — New York-Los Angeles, New York-San Francisco and Chicago-San Francisco. The conclusion was that average prices for tickets booked through Oct. 1 were up to 30% higher if they were for travel during the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s season. Customers at the site paid an average of $496 for a round-trip New York-San Francisco flight in the Dec. 23 to Jan. 1, 2011 period, which is 30% more than the flight cost last year.

Based on the number of tickets that have been sold, sources at Orbitz say the busiest days to fly during this holiday season will be between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26, and the lightest days for travel will be Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. They say the most expensive day to fly will be Dec. 26, for which date Orbitz customers on domestic flights have paid an average round-trip fare of $717. The cheapest day to fly this season will be Dec. 31, with an average round-trip fare of $439.

FareCompare’s analysis covered the cheapest non-stop fares on 10 popular domestic routes which linked to major hubs as Atlanta, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles. According to their analysis, as per data received on November 1, the cheapest non-stop, round-trip ticket between Boston and Minneapolis was $859. This fare was 59% more expensive than for the same travel dates in 2009. All of the ten routes that they analyzed showed Thanksgiving travel fares to be higher by approximately 13% than those of the same dates in 2009.

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