I don’t really know. I was advising clients last year to purchase their flights before the end of 2022 because there was murmuring that this was going to happen. Why? No clue. Airlines were given so much PPP money and travel has not slowed down in 2 years, so what gives? I only wish I knew the ins and outs of how these conglomerates work their budgets and targets, but I am just the Travel Advisor who is advising, what often feels like blindly because there is no rhyme or reason right now.
What can you do to offset some of these costs?
PLAN AHEAD: If you want travel to be apart of your world, you are going to have to plan for it. Gone are the days where you could plan a quick trip on the fly and it didn’t cost a fortune. I am not saying it is not possible- it absolutely is. There are moments where the hotels or airlines over inflate pricing and rooms or seats don’t sell, and you may get the lucky one-off chance to grab a deal. But “deals” anymore are few and far between, unless you planned for them months, sometimes years in advance. I am going to give you another scenario: Cruises. From November through December 2022, there were actual “deals” on the cruise lines. 2023 hits, and those “deals” were based on highly inflated rates then “discounted” to make the consumer feel like they are getting a “deal” when their friend bought the same cruise in November for half the cost. It happens. It’s not just cruises, but right now, I am experiencing the most with this field of the travel industry. If you are thinking about a family vacation during Thanksgiving or Festive (Christmas and New Years holiday weeks), then we should be talking now. Planning ahead buys you time to watch fares and even enjoy the benefits of “Bundling” a package with some of those amazing bulk fares airlines pass on through suppliers.
BUNDLE: Sometimes it is in the best interest of my clients to “Bundle” their package. This works well in places where you need air and a hotel for at least 3-nights. Airlines offer suppliers Bulk Pricing, which is pricing only the suppliers and the airlines can see. What you and I typically see is called Published Fares. What happens is the supplier has access to these bulk fares, which in turn makes the hotel options very affordable as well. When you bundle air and hotel, sometimes I can even find some pretty stellar pricing on Premium Economy or Business Class. Cruise lines will offer air as well, and sometimes it is better or there are promotions running like a buy 1 fare for 2 passengers- so it is definitely worth inquiring, and keeping all of your options open. Again, planning ahead is in your favor when bundling as well. Price watch, and if the air drops, in most cases, as long as final payment has not been made, the airline will honor the price drop.
PRICE WATCH: You bought air at a ridiculously high price yesterday. Today it dropped $1000. That happens. Guess what? Call the airline and ask them to adjust the cost of the fare. Most airlines will do this, but you have to be on top of it. They aren’t that nice and won’t do it automatically for you. Always ask and confirm this before you purchase your air so you understand the rules.
TRY SOMETHING NEW: I read recently that domestic carriers, such as Delta, United and American, are starting to do away with traditional First Class on long-haul flights. This is why you are seeing cabin classes like Delta One and Polaris come on the scene. Not a true First Class, more like a Business Class with lie flat seats and experienced service. So fares should drop right? Nope. In fact, it is predicted that Business Class fares will continue to rise, and it will become more and more difficult to afford Business Class (or Biz Class as I like to shorten it to). But there are options out there that feel like a private jet option, and when you weigh the costs compared to brand-name airlines, it might make more sense. Of course, we are all familiar with JetSuitesX which is increasing its destination options yearly. Another new carrier to get you to and from Newark to Paris, Nice, and Milan, La Compagnie, which is like a JetSuitesX with a smaller passenger load, but all Biz Class- lie-flat seats and exceptional service. And, here’s a little tip I learned for those of you who love Mexico. If you can get yourself to San Diego, you can get yourself to the Tijuana International Airport, and you can get yourself for half the cost to Cabo San Lucas (or anywhere else in Mexico) through domestic Mexico airlines. The easiest thing I heard was from a San Diego local who drove her car to the border where there is a facility set up for Americans to leave their vehicles, then walk across a bridge that takes you straight into the Tijuana International Airport. Customs are done, so you can be one of those gorgeously dressed people that just cruise through while we all wait in the Disneyland line that is Customs in Cabo.
USE MY AIR DESK: As much as you hate dealing with the airlines, I hate it worst, promise. But I love my clients so much and I want everyone to travel and be able to comfortably, so I decided this year to take on AIR. I am working with two consolidators, my agency’s Air Desk, and also a separate consolidator, Global First, so I can offer my clients options to compare what they are finding and what my consolidators can find. What is an Air Consolidator? Much like the suppliers I keep mentioning, Air Consolidators have access to bulk and GPS fares, meaning they can see everything the airlines are seeing, and even more, than my suppliers can see. The beauty of working with me to book your air is that everything is then coordinated for your trip and there is no concern or stress about having your air match up to the itinerary, that all falls on me and my suppliers to make sure you get there in the time frame indicated. Sometimes a commission is already built into the cost through the airline, and you won’t see the difference (much like when you book hotels and packages through me already), and in some instances you will see a fee that varies based on things like domestic, international, connections, one way, round trips, etc.