Rising Airfares in the United States: What Can You Do?

$602.70.

That is how much Delta Air Lines wants to charge me for a round-trip flight between Atlanta and Las Vegas next month.

Airfares in the United States are increasing and will continue to do so, according to an article by Scott Mayerowitz, who is the airlines writer for the Associated Press: “The average roundtrip ticket within the U.S., including taxes, reached $509.15 in the first six months of this year, up nearly $14 from the same period last year. Domestic airfare continues to outpace inflation, rising 2.7 percent compared to the 2.1 percent gain in the Consumer Price Index.”

I am not the target market for airlines who are raking in billions of dollars resulting from passengers paying ancillary fees; but those fees have been increasing as well — and so have the profits.

The reasons behind the increases in airfares — despite a slight decrease in oil prices — include but are not limited to:

 

…so what can you do to mitigate the pain? Not much, unfortunately — but here are some suggestions which might help:

  • Be flexible If I change my flight plans by one day, I can reduce that $602.70 to $382.20 on Delta Air Lines — $344.20 if I can be really flexible — but that would mean at least another night in a hotel room and additional costs such as for food and airport parking at the originating airport
  • Fly as a passenger on a different airline Without such airlines as Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines and soon US Airways, choices have become more limited — and my airfare can be reduced further to $318.00 if I fly as a passenger on US Airways, stop in Charlotte on my way to Las Vegas and spend more time there
  • Travel to a different city This only works if you plan on renting a car anyway and do not mind driving; in my case, I can consider to flying to such destinations as Los Angeles, Salt Lake City or Phoenix — all of which display lower airfares as this article was written — and drive to Las Vegas…and I must consider the cost of fuel for the vehicle
  • Wait for a sale Do not hold your breath on this one; but it is important not to panic if you have the time to wait out an airline for an airfare sale; and if one appears, take full advantage of it
  • Check airfares daily — or even multiple times per day Sometimes airfares are inexplicably lowered — and not necessarily because it was posted as an error; for example, it was only a couple of weeks ago that the airfare on Delta Air Lines between Atlanta and Salt Lake City was as low as $266.00 even though those two cities are hub airports for the airline
  • Use your frequent flier loyalty program miles I am loathe to spend 50,000 SkyMiles on a round-trip flight that should cost 25,000 SkyMiles — but if I decide to use my SkyMiles, I am researching the options you just read to reduce the amount I need to redeem for this flight
  • Use travel tools such as Google Flights, Matrix Airfare Search by ITA Software, and Kayak to search for airfares — and the more flexible you are, the more creative you can get
  • Follow travel, miles and points Internet web sites such as here at BoardingArea — as well as the Mileage Run Deals forum on FlyerTalk; the Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking forum on Milepoint; and The Flight Deal

 

As for me, I am going to continue to vigilantly search for lower airfares to Las Vegas on a particular weekend in mid-September for an important event which I would truly like to attend…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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