What the Latest Airfare Hike Means for Summer Travelers

As FareCompare was the first to report, a roundtrip airfare hike of between $6 and $10 was detected early this week and was quickly joined by most of the competition, making it the third successful hike of the year.

Listen as airfare analyst Rick Seaney explains the in's and out's of the latest airfare hike:

3 Airfare Hikes for 2012

And summer vacation travelers will feel it – and all the other hikes to come.

More Airfare Hikes Likely

That there will be more hikes is highly likely, if recent history is any guide. In the second quarter of last year – April, May and June – the airlines were able to push through two domestic airfare hikes, and I expect to see something similar as we head into the historically-busy summer travel season.

4 Tips for Cheap Flights for Summer Vacation

When Summer Travelers Should Buy Airfare

Flyers may even find this coming summer travel period is busier than ever, in part because of people who put off vacation trips and now feel in a better position to hit the road and the airways again.

The time to start planning for summer trips is now – but not all travelers should actually buy airline tickets at this time. Here are some guidelines:

  • For travel through early June: Shop now and buy your airline tickets.
  • For travel beginning mid-June: Shop now – and buy tickets if your trip will wrap up by mid-June and the airfare sale of your choice includes those travel dates. Look for the sale dates in each of the airline sale posts on the Deals Blog.
  • For travel beginning last June and beyond: Shop now – but hold off buying if departures are in late June.

Rising Oil and Airfare Prices: What Shoppers Must Know

Why Some Summer Airfare Shoppers Should Wait

Most airlines have not begun releasing their cheapest seat inventories for travel from late June onward so – for the bulk of summer vacation travelers – it is still too early to ding your credit card. Those who do will find they will likely pay more than they have to.

Another world of advice for those who wish to lock-in tickets prices now:  remember how oil prices dropped last summer? Airfare and oil prices are, as always, joined at the hip.

For a quick historical comparison, see the chart below, comparing airfare data for the cheapest roundtrips between the 50 largest passenger traffic destinations in the U.S. over the past five years – with spot kerosene jet fuel prices, per gallon.

Rick Seaney
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