A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was in a meeting with the executives of an airline in some financial difficulty. At one point, after listening to some half-baked suggestions, the CEO wailed, "We can fool airports all the time, fool the CAB most of the time, and fool the IRS some of the time, but for God's sake let's not fool ourselves."
Right now, that translates to "Don't kid yourself about cheap travel this fall." Travel isn't immune to inflation, and operations are still sticky due to staffing, supply, and maintenance problems that aren't going away in 2022. A recent release from InsureMyTrip.com shows that the typical trip cost coverage increased from $4,018 in January to $7,667 for December. Some of this may be due to longer winter trips, but the trend is clear. Given the situation, I have a few trends to note.
Overall, airfares are a bright spot — prices seem to have stabilized, and we've even seen a few cuts. In the U.S., new low-fare lines are beefing up as fast as airport and staffing constraints permit:
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Avelo remains established in linking Burbank Airport to a handful of smaller cities in the West, but its main focus is building up in the East. New Haven seems to be a surprisingly successful origin center, for flights to/from a bunch of vacation spots in the South, and it has just opened up a new northern origin point at Binghamton. I look for the line to test other such points in coming months, but finding potentially profitable routes Allegiant hasn't already found will be tough.
Breeze will continue to add long-haul routes from key western cities to smaller cities in the east as it receives new A220s, but it's anyone's guess where it will next deploy Embraers.
Now that Frontier's attempt to acquire Spirit fizzled, look to Frontier to expand aggressively.
The biggest news for transatlantic travelers is Norse Atlantic's (flynorse.com) aggressive growth, with nonstop flights daily from New York/JFK to Oslo, London/Gatwick, and Berlin (through Oct. 29); three weekly flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Oslo and Berlin (after Dec. 7); three weekly flights from Los Angeles to Berlin and Oslo; and three weekly flights from Orlando to Oslo (through Oct. 29). Fares are currently on sale through Sept. 26 for travel through March 23; sample one-way trips include $119 New York to Berlin and $201 Los Angeles to Oslo. Of course, Icelandair continues with its traditional one-stop service, more recently copied by Play, with service Iceland and connections from Baltimore, Boston, and Newburgh/Stewart.
Asia is reopening slowly. The main airline news is growth in low-fare transpacific service. This time it's Zipair, a JAL affiliate, adding nonstops to Tokyo/Narita from San Jose/Mineta in December to go along with its recently inaugurated Los Angeles route. I haven't seen any sale fares yet.
As I've been saying, hotels are more likely to be your money sink this fall. Rates in most destinations are at or near all-time highs. A new hotel metasearch system, cozycozy.com, won the 2022 Tourism Innovation Award in the start-up category. It claims to cast an extremely wide net for accommodations, types, including hotel rooms, rentals, Airbnb, flats, houses, boats, youth hostels, campgrounds, gites, even teepees and yurts. It also claims transparency with fully-inclusive prices, but when I tested, I found rates that did not include resort fees.
I still like Kayak for its ability to display all-up prices from the first page. And I remain perplexed as to why nobody else is offering that obvious advantage
More than ever, there's no substitute for casting the widest net you can cast when looking for just about anything travel related. From what I've seen, no one metasearch system or online agency consistently outdoes others. Also, no matter where you buy, always check with a supplier's own site to look for loyalty benefits and AAA or AARP for consistent if modest discounts. And don't miss a good deal by waiting for the "perfect" deal: When you see a good deal, grab it.