Bing, the other search guys who call their solution the “decision engine,” have just announced their initial forecast for the 2010 summer travel season, revealing an uptick in airfares. Bing Travel says this year’s fares for summer travel to domestic destinations average $303 per ticket, up 22 percent from 2009 and 4 percent higher than 2008 fares. Travelers looking into Europe this summer will have difficulty finding bargains as airfare to European destinations averages $1,271 per ticket, up 29 percent from 2009. Although airfares are going up, smart travelers can still find ways to save (see tips below).
“Forget about the low fares that were around last year — they’re gone. Airlines have balanced out their capacity, and the result is airfares trending well above last year’s rates and more in line with summer 2008 during the height of oil prices and fuel surcharges,” said Bing Travel Fareologist Joel Grus. “Oil prices could still rise going into the summer, which could push fares higher. “
Although ways to save money on air travel are few, Grus offers the following tips for summer travelers:
- Use alternative European airports for multicountry visits. When planning a multicountry tour, shop less popular airports as your starting point. For example, fares to London and Madrid are typically $200 less than tickets to Paris and Rome. This summer, Madrid is seeing the smallest year over year increase in airfare of European destinations, averaging $1,039 per ticket, while Amsterdam is seeing the largest year over year increase in airfare of European destinations, averaging $1,351 per ticket.
- Watch for cheaper fares in late summer. Domestic and international fares start to dip lower for travel in September. For travelers who aren’t held to a school schedule, September fares are up only 2 percent year over year, averaging $282 per ticket. The second half of August is also more reasonable, averaging $290 per ticket. Consumers planning to book a late-August trip should keep in mind that airlines traditionally launch big end-of-summer sales in early to mid-July.
- Travelers should buy now if they see a good fare. The likelihood of fares continuing to increase as the summer season nears far outweighs the likelihood of fares dropping significantly. Travelers with specific dates for travel should buy early and jump on the next good fare available. Bing Travel’s Price Predictor can give travelers specific “Buy Now” or “Wait” recommendations for their individual itinerary.
- Pack light to avoid additional fees. When shopping for flights, remember that many airlines charge hefty baggage fees, increasing the total cost of your trip. Be sure to consider the airlines’ baggage fees, and when packing, remember that less is more — airlines charge for first, second and overweight bags. (To check the luggage fees and regulations for various airlines, check out luggagelimits.com).