Now Is the Time to Book Your Summer Vacation
In the past it paid off to buy tickets at the last minute, but as airlines park planes and the ones still flying fill up, the The Wall Street Journal is reporting a "summer seat squeeze."
Several travel companies are seeing increases in airfares. Compared to summer trips last year, Bing Travel said airfares are 22 percent higher, Expedia.com said prices are up 18 percent, and Travelocity.com said domestic ticket prices for trips around Memorial Day are up 16 percent.
International airfares are also up. Bing Travel reported a 29 percent increase for travel near Memorial Day, while Travelocity.com said prices have surged 21 percent.
"Last year you may have been able to wait to buy tickets. This year, I wouldn't wait," said Kevin Healy, senior vice president for marketing and planning at AirTran Airways, a unit of AirTran Holdings Inc., to the Wall Street Journal.
There is some good news, however: since hotels cannot cut capacity as easily as airlines, domestic rates are still staying low. According to Bing Travel, rates at high-end hotels are down 10 percent this year. Travelocity said rates are down slightly, averaging $144 per night compared to $145 last year. Certain parts of the country have seen significant drops on room rates, such as Maui (down 21 percent), Orlando (down 12 percent), and New York City (down 6 percent).
International room rates are slightly higher than last year, averaging $218 a night compared to $212 last summer.
"Travelers are going to find higher airfare rates across the board, but if they look into destinations with lower hotel rates they could save on the total trip cost," said Joel Grus, a fare expert at Bing Travel to the Wall Street Journal.