Finding travel deals at a time when air fares are headed higher


Air fares are headed higher, but you can still find deals.

At a securities analysts conference recently, the chieftains of Delta told financial types that their goal is to raise international airfares by 20% and domestic airfares by 12% in 2012.

But Delta is not alone in this. Even leading discounter Southwest Airlines is looking to push fares up because of the extremely high price of jet fuel.

You think gas is expensive for you right now to fill up your vehicle? For an airline, the cost of fuel is more than a third of operating expenses.

What airlines are doing is they fly planes out to the desert to jettison them as they wait for lower fuel prices. It’s an attempt to control how much demand there is relative to supply. So even if fewer people fly in 2012 because of higher fares, they can still push those higher fares through by rationing the number of seats available.

So what are you going to do if you want to fly somewhere on vacation? Well, a couple of things. First, many trips, even for business, are not mandatory but discretionary. So maybe you stay home if the fare is too high.

But even in this environment, deals are popping up on soft dates or soft routes. Some of the best deals this year will be to Caribbean spots all the way through the offseason and also to Asia.

If you need to travel domestically, look at alternative airlines you may not have considered before, such as Allegiant Air and Southwest Airlines. You may even want to hold your nose and fly Spirit Air, which offers very cheap fares that you earn by enduring a terrible customer experience.

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