By Stacey Dougherty
January 5, 2010 – Well, so far the New Year is not looking kindly on the airline industry. With the Christmas Day incident in Detroit and the fiasco on Sunday night at Newark, the TSA and the airlines aren’t getting any love from passengers. In fact, many are re-considering travel plans that involve any air travel at all.
What does this mean for the industry and especially you, the consumer? To start, revenue for most of the large carriers will suffer if they don’t come up with better standards of security and procedure. The TSA needs to get on board with better protocol as well and quite frankly, more common sense has to emerge from these past two incidents otherwise the industry will not regain its footing in 2010.
And that will bring more industry consolidation, which will decrease capacity further. And once you get to a certain point, fares just can’t go any lower if capacity is cut yet again. The rise in fees that have emerged over the past 18 months won’t be able to staunch the flow this time and those added costs will certainly contribute to passengers re-thinking their options.
What to do if you’re a traveler who has to fly or refuses to give up your dream of a Hawaiian vacation? Get on the email list for all the big airlines. You don’t have to have a frequent flier account to subscribe to their email lists. The airlines are cutting out the middleman even more so and offering their best deals through email. Web only deals are becoming more prevalent and every week there’s another new promotion.
The same is happening with hotels and resorts. Some of the best deals are coming directly from Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and other recognizable names. While many are struggling to keep their rates elevated and not succumb to fire sale discounts, the airline PR situation is not helping. All of the hotels including budget types have email subscription lists and you can get their best deals delivered straight to your inbox as they become available, usually on a weekly basis. And if you make a reservation, don’t forget to ask for any additional discount you may be entitled to. Most hotels that honor the AAA card will do so even on top of a promotion.
Another way to save, say most travel experts, is by going with a vacation package – airfare plus hotel. In these offerings, hotels are more willing to adjust their prices lower when they bundle with an airline.
And if you enjoy doing the legwork involved with securing a good deal, or if your destination is not one that attracts many travelers, there’s always Kayak and Priceline. I love Kayak and always start there but sometimes the deal in my inbox from Delta or Airtran offers better savings, if I act quickly.
Just remember that capacity cuts will still be an issue for most of this year. If you know when you have to fly, and especially if it’s a popular destination, don’t wait to book. As soon as you see a good deal, grab it because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a seat at any price the closer you get to your date. Unless, of course, security breaches and breakdowns continue to paralyze our airports. Then the only planes that will be flying will be strictly cargo.