Are fares going up or coming down? Well, it depends. During the current slow winter season we’ve reported on plenty of rock bottom sale fares, such as $338 round trip from California to Hawaii, our special $499 deal between SFO & Seoul, roundtrips between Las Vegas and other western cities for less than $100, transcons between New York and California below $300 round trip, and introductory round trips to Denver for $139 and more. This week, SAS came out with a crazy $99 introductory one-way fare between Los Angeles and Stockholm (for flights between March 14-25 only).
But then there’s this headline: last week airlines successfully raised fares for the third time so far this year. Southwest initiated the $10 hike on Friday, and it was soon matched by Delta, United and American. If it sticks, as it seems to be doing, base fares will have risen $22 roundtrip since the beginning of this year.
What gives? Fare hikes are happening on routes where the major airlines don’t compete with the newly rowdy “ultra low cost” crowd– mostly to/from small and medium sized cities where there is not much competition. But they are discounting fares on those where there is low-fare competition. Airlines such as Spirit and Frontier in the US or Norwegian Air and Wow Air in Europe are leading the discounts.
Tip: If you are looking for a low fare for a quick trip, your first step should be to take a look at the flight maps from ultra-low cost carriers. When you see a city pair and a fare that appeals to you, head to the major airline websites to see if they are matching it. Above, see Spirit Air’s map. Below is Frontier’s. Click on the images for links to interactive maps. That’s where the low fare action is happening. Elsewhere, you’ll likely find fares that are the same or slightly higher than before.
What are YOU seeing out there? Does it feel like fares are going up or coming down? What’s the best or worst deal you’ve found this winter? Leave your comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: Should I tip my Uber driver? + Boeing 747 nearing its end? + Bargain hunters travel guide for 2016 + World’s best airline lounge? + Fares to Europe tumble