Experts: Travel costs going up, deals harder to find

April 30, 2012 3:24:24 PM PDT
If you are planning on flying anywhere this summer, get ready for some sticker shock. Airfare prices are going up, and that's just the beginning.

From fares to fees, the airlines are charging more because they say it costs more to fly. The reason: the high cost of fuel. For travelers, getting a deal may be harder than ever.

Airfares have been creeping up for two years, according to the fare comparison website Travelocity, and Clement Jean Gilles has the proof.

"I used to come here for just a couple of hundred dollars; now I am paying almost $400 to get here," Gilles said.

That's double the cost to fly from Rhode Island to Houston a year ago. The fares are just the beginning of the problems facing travelers.

Carolyn Alexander is a frequent flyer but can't seem to use the miles anymore.

"It used to be real easy to use mileage plus and traveler points and bonus points, and it is difficult; airlines have cut the number of flights, so they've made it almost impossible to use points," Alexander said.

Another issue facing flyers are the fees.

While you may already know about the cost of checking bags, you may be surprised to learn moving seats once you are on board could cost you, too. Airlines have premium coach seats that cost more to book and can cost you in-flight if you move to one.

"They have that little credit card machine in there and it makes it real easy to charge whatever they want to," travel consultant Mike Weingart said.

Weingart says there may be way to beat the fee bug. He says using an airline-branded credit card can help cut costs. But remember those cards come with an annual fee and are only in your best interest if you fly a lot.

"The airlines often times have credit cards, where they give you the first and the second bag free; and if you make four trips a year, $25 each way, that's a couple of hundred dollars right there and the card is less than that," Weingart said.

As for cutting the cost of airfares, Weingart saves money by avoiding non-stop flights when possible.

"I had a case where I had to go to Los Angeles, it was $800 non-stop but going through Denver it was going to be $400," Weingart said.

The best advice from travel experts is to book flights now, the best deals are the ones you find a couple of months from when you are traveling.

And you may find a good deal on a trip package, rather than booking flights and hotel separately.


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