Higher fares and higher fees won’t stop more of us from traveling by air this year, predicts FareCompare.com chief executive Rick Seaney. And what’s more, says the industry veteran, we’ll do so with less complaining.
Outlining his predictions for air travel for 2012 in an ABC News column, Mr Seaney said that although airlines were likely to increase airfares in 2012 – following on from twelve months in which fares rose nine times – there would still be an increase in leisure travel, thanks mainly to carriers “tossing out occasional discounts” to fill middle seats.
However, Mr Seaney warned that sales would be “fewer and further between” tempering any massive rise in air travel.
“If you shop smart - if you buy your tickets on Tuesday and are willing to fly midweek instead of Friday or Sunday, you can still game the airfare pricing system and come out a winner,” he remarked, encouragingly.
As well as paying more for fares, passengers this year should expect an increase in airline fees, the FareCompare boss wrote, saying that 2012 would likely be the year of “Fees 4.0”.
“Fees 4.0 will mean higher fees (especially if oil takes another precipitous hike), plus more bundling of extras we might not have wanted to purchase separately but may succumb to after seeing them continuously discounted from pay-point to pay-point via email, on our smartphones, at the airport kiosk or even on our airplane seat back screens,” Mr Seaney commented, highlighting KLM’s proposed "choose your seatmate via Facebook" plan, for which he believes many will pay.
Further to this, Mr Seaney said, would be a greater acceptance by passengers of the “realities of air travel”, comparing flying today with traveling by bus, “with few frills and even fewer fun times”.
“Complaints about airport security are down, and I'm getting fewer angry emails about unfair bag fees,” he wrote in his column.
“We may not like it but we're getting used to it, and face it - air travel is still the best way of getting from Point A to Point B.”
Alluding to the recent woes of American Airlines, Seaney’s final prediction for 2012 was for the possibility of more airline mergers.
Citing Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly’s observation that many legacy airlines had emerged from bankruptcy as “giant, lower-cost airlines [that are] much more formidable competition than their predecessors,” the FareCompare co-founder said that American should “by all accounts” probably merge with another airline.
“Yet most of the musical chairs are already accounted for - think Delta/Northwest, United/Continental - so there are not many choices,” he stated.
“US Airways might be a willing partner for AA but culture clash could spell doom.
“I'm on the fence on this one.”
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Airfares to rise, but we’ll still fly, says industry expert
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H