Summer and ash mean airfares are heading one way: UP

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 29 at 7:16 PM

SEATTLE - At Seattle Pacific University, Gail Debell is starting to  put together next year's student tours. That's her job, she runs the group study abroad program.

She says fares to Europe are already running about $500 more than they were last year to Europe. A year from now, she fears they will be higher still.

There are a number of factors as to why. First, the economy is improving and driving up demand for airplane seats. With an improved economy, more people want to travel this summer. And second, European airlines especially are trying to fill in a $3 billion-plus hole left in their collective bank accounts by all those Icelandic volcano shut downs, which grounded an estimated 100,000 flights.

At one point Debell says, "fares were going up every 20 minutes." As she recently added some students to an upcoming trip to Paris, the fare jumped from $1,476 to $1,586.

At Lake Union Travel, we were shown one  American Airlines fare that flew from $1,440 to $1,700.

Price is one thing, but some off the revenue-boosting techniques used by airlines to boost revenues are far more subtle.

At Lake Union Travel, consultant Dineen Hughes calls up a European flight on her computer screen. Next to the flight number are a lot of zeroes. he zeroes signify that there are no U-coded or cheap seats available. Zip, zero, zilch. All the available seats are full price.

Travel consultant Steve Danishek says overall European fares "are up 17 percent." And don't think flying within the U.S. is going to get you any big breaks. Domestic fares are up 7 percent.

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