Cost of air travel expected to soar this spring

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Looking to book a flight this summer? Well, don’t hop on an airplane without being properly informed. Yes, COVID-19 still has a grip on the airline industry even though it’s less tight.

Industry experts say if you want to travel in the next several months, book your ticket now, because once these low prices from the pandemic are gone, they won’t be coming back. Prices will rise and they won’t drop down again.

According to Nerdwallet, $259 was the average cost of a domestic round-trip ticket in the second quarter of 2020. That dropped 28% from the same period in 2019. Those stats come via the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Nerdwallet also reports that domestic airfare prices are expected to rise 4% to 5% every month until summer.

Fort Wayne travel agents say the demand for flights has been rising fast since the start of this 2021.

“In January 2021, it was almost like you flipped that calendar over and all of a sudden people were calling,” said Alison Finco, owner of Advance Travel. “They were calling and saying, ‘when can I travel? Where can I travel? I can’t stand this anymore. I have to go someplace.’ and we are just really, really busy.”

So, should people book flights earlier rather than later?

“Definitely, yes,” said Finco. “The cancelation penalties are pretty good right now. So if you book and the price goes up, you’re locked in to that price and if you book and it goes down, since they allow you to change, you could redo it for the lower price.”

As for hotels, Finco said it’s all about supply and demand.

“People think they’re going to get a super deal, people haven’t been traveling so the hotels want us to come, so they’re going to give us a super deal,” Finco said. “It’s supply and demand. If you are going to some place that not many people are going and the hotels are almost empty, you might get a good deal because anybody in that hotel is better than not having anybody, but if you’re going to a popular place, a popular resort where a lot of people are going, they’re not lowering their prices because they don’t have to.”

She said car rentals have had the biggest jump in prices so far this year.

“People didn’t rent cars for almost a year and the car rental companies had a whole fleet of cars and they sold them off,” she explained. “So, they have fewer cars. So, it’s harder to find a car and when you get a car, it’s more expensive.”

Another piece of advice Finco provided is to have your COVID vaccination card on you as well as results from a very recent COVID test (within 72 hours or so) to ensure the smoothest flight experiences possible.

Fort Wayne International Airport Executive Director of Airports Scott Hinderman said the amount of passengers in March 2021 was 28 percent higher than March 2020.

“This March was phenomenal” he said. “We saw a really good increase in number of passengers using our airport and that continues for a continual trend towards recovery from the pandemic that we’ve seen that kind of offsets all the way to last April.”

He expects the number of passengers this spring and summer to be 80 percent of what they were before the pandemic.

“Time will tell us what that truly is, but I do believe that is a significant amount of pent up demand for travel,” he said. “People are wanting to get out and go someplace. The vaccination rates are really increasing in our country so people are comfortable.”

Hinderman doesn’t expect passenger levels to hit 100 percent normal again until 2023.

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