But what can a budget traveler do right now to avoid the high cost of air travel? Estelle, a travel agent with 17 years experience, says it pays to plan ahead.
Airlines release prices nine months in advance, so for holiday or other high traffic travel times (i.e. summer…) it is best to buy early. Only about 25 percent of travelers buy four months or more in advance and those people probably get the best pricing, Estelle says. Flights during popular weeks rarely have a reduction in prices. If you’re worried about making plans so far in advance, Estelle suggests buying travelers insurance.
When airlines do list low fares, it is based on the inventory of seats. If your travel plans are flexible, wait for those deals to be released and plan your trip accordingly, Estelle says.
You might also consider flying into a different airport in the same metro region. For example, it may cost $50 less to fly into Newark, N.J., than New York City, but you have to also figure in ground transportation costs and the extra time involved.
Always book your flights online since most airlines now charge a $25 fee to reserve through an agent, Estelle says. Use sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity, but check the airline websites as well. The airlines will always show the lowest price they are offering to the public, while other sites may not.
If you want a person to assist you, travel agents can still help and they may even find a great deal.
“We may have access to bulk fares which they don’t put on the website,” Estelle says, adding he recently found a business-class ticket for $5,000 less than the price on the airline website.
Do all that you can to get the best value on air travel, but know that any time you are on a plane, everyone probably paid a different price to be there.