Get ready to pay more for airfare

September 20, 2011 3:44:41 PM PDT
Get ready to pay more for airfare. Fewer flights and extra fees are greeting passengers, so how can you save a few dollars? Airlines plan to cut the number of flights because of fuel costs, for travelers it means more money per ticket.

From baggage fees to security lines flying is not exactly fun these days, but it is about to get more expensive too. Just ask traveler Sheila Zea.

"I travel back to Pennsylvania every year for the past 11 years," she said. "Historically I could get a flight for approximately $400, $350, and it was $525 when I checked last night."

Zea may even change a holiday tradition of seeing her parents each year if airfare keeps heading skyward.

Zea said, "I am going to see my family this trip actually, and so I am going to discuss it with them, is this something we want to see each other again so close, or just postpone it."

Why are the prices going up? There are fewer domestic flights. Delta is cutting flights by five percent, American by four percent and United Continental by up to three percent due to fuel costs. Fewer seats means higher prices. In the last 12 months fares are up nearly 10%

Traveler Wes Marshall said, "That's a little high, so..."

Add to that checked bags fees averaging $38 and a proposed hike in the security fee from $5 to $10 and travelers say they feel nickeled and dimed.

"I am probably traveling a little more and yeah, I am concerned about it, definitely," Marshall said.

But it is still possible to save money while flying.

"I have always said this -- you have to be flexible, but now you have to be even more flexible than normal," travel agent Mike Weingart advised.

Weingart says by avoiding nonstop flights and checking the price for each day of the week, he cut the cost of a recent Chicago trip.

"It was $650, Houston to Chicago round trip. If I make a connection, it would go down to about $350," Weingart said. "By going one day earlier or one day later, it goes down to $225."

International travelers beware -- if your bag weighs more than 71 pounds some airlines will charge you up to $450. You still get at least one free bag on most international flights. Some airlines give you two, but be sure the weight stays under 71 pounds.

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