Nov 072012
 

Author: Kendall Greenwood

For CSU liberal arts senior Jill Spencer, finding a ticket to fly home to Stockton, CA for the holidays is anything but relaxing.

English: PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Feb. 19, 2010)...

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“I have my last final on Friday then I don’t really want to have to drive to the airport right after and I can’t drive there and leave my car at the airport for a month during Christmas,” Spencer said.

She has to decide to wait and see if a roommate can drop her off on the way home or take the super shuttle.  This takes a lot of planning with departure times and ticket prices. However, this year airline ticket arrangements are not making holiday planning easy.

The price of tickets for this holiday season has gone up.  According to Jane Folsom, the owner of Destination by Design, the increase is 10 percent higher than last year. This mainly has to do with the availability of flights.

“There are fewer flights this year and population hasn’t decreased necessarily,” Folsom said. “So there’s high demand for thanksgiving flights and that’s what makes the airlines charge a little bit more.”

The airlines provide fewer flights to give the airline teams a break.  However, there has also been major airline consolidation since last year according to Folsom.  Continental and United are now one company.

“A year ago we had both Continental and United flying a fairly significant route structure,” Folsom said. “So [now] in routes or itineraries where the airlines were competitive, we have only one.”

Airline companies are expressing more freedom in more than airline ticket prices.

According to Spirit.com, an airline new to the Denver area, the company is adding carry-on baggage fees as of Nov. 6. As of that date, general customers who reserve tickets will be charged $40 for their first carry-on bag at check-in.  This is up $5 from the current price recorded on the website.

“And if you don’t pay for that carry-on piece of luggage as you check in, the charge is $100 [at the gate],” Folsom said.

There are ways to lessen these price add-ons as you look for a ticket.  The first is buying a ticket as early as possible.

“You can buy tickets 330 days in advance,” Folsom said.

For Spencer, looking early is the best strategy.

“Even as days go by you’ll be like, ‘well I’ll do it tomorrow’ and then your $170 flight is a $250 flight over a day,” Spencer said.  “It is a huge increase, especially when [you’re a] college student.”

According to Folsom, flying into more regional airports helps the costs and availability.  Instead of flying into a small town, try looking at the bigger airports in towns surrounding the area.

“You’ll have more choices as far as carriers,” Folsom said.

This enables you as the consumer to compare extra chargers for each carrier.

Spencer flies Southwest Airlines because there are no baggage fees and the members club allows her to earn points for free flights.

“I flew to Idaho [for a family reunion] and used United I think,” Spencer said. “I had to pay for my luggage [and] I think it was $40 or $50, but round trip that’s $100.”

Folsom warns against scheduling to fly home the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

“The Sunday after Thanksgiving is by far the heaviest travel date of the entire year,” Folsom said.

Even though it cuts your travel short, she recommends looking at Friday or Saturday for flying home.  Another fix for this is flying to or from your holiday location on the actual day.

If you don’t want to go through the process of looking for flights yourself, you can use travel agencies like Destination by Design. According to Folsom, most travel agents charge a fee but they can save you time and some money.

“I would say that this is definitely a season and a year that, to get a better deal or the best deals that are available, you need to book as soon as possible,” Folsom said. “Do not wait.”

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