$97 round-trip to Milan, Italy?! Just one of the crazy airfare sales so far in 2009.
Travelocity released figures today that might make you think twice about skipping a trip this year. According to research released today from the travel site, airfares across the board (yes, both domestically and internationally) are down on average a whopping 40 percent! This of course comes at a time when the economy is in utter turmoil worldwide. In the United States alone more than 2.6 million jobs were lost last year, the worst in more than six decades.
But this economic dark cloud has seen an odd silver lining for many Americans. While jobs were cut, the price of oil also dropped and with that came the resurgence of the U.S. dollar’s value. Yes I do not get it either. Take a look at the differences in exchange rates from one year ago and today involving America’s currency:
- 3/4/08: 1 British Pound=2.01 USD, 1 Euro=1.53 USD, 1 USD=2.32 Polish Zloty, 1 USD=1.01 Australian Dollar
- 3/4/09: 1 British Pound=1.42 USD, 1 Euro=1.26 USD, 1 USD=3.72 Polish Zloty, 1 USD=1.52Australian Dollar
Now on top of that news, comes the sales…oh the glorious sales! Yes since no one is spending money, the travel industry is hurting big time. Everything from air, hotel and cruises have gone down drastically in price and if you can afford to travel, now it most certainly the time. Airfares are at their lowest since post 9/11 days and when you see an airline advertise a sale, it is a sure-fire bet that the competition will match or beat it. Here are a few examples of some fare differences between right now and a year ago. A round-trip NYC-San Francisco flight would put you back easily $350-$450 this time last year. Book it today and you will see fares throughout the spring for as low as $211-$250!
Same goes for international fares, last year if you were to fly round-trip from Newark to top European cities, it would cost roughly $500-$600. Now go online today and you will see pretty much all of Europe is on sale with jaw dropping prices. A few that stood out from my local airports in the New York area included Dublin ($315), Madrid ($370) and Berlin ($325). One fare out of Charlotte to London back in February was $250 round-trip with taxes and fees included!
I even reported on my site last month of an Insane Italy sale, in which the total round-trip fare was $387 from NYC to Rome or Milan (That was $97 for the tickets and $290 taxes/fees). Oh and let’s not forget Australia. The once super expensive destination is also on sale. Flights that were going for as much as $2,000 round-trip a year ago are now priced at $900!
Aer Lingus is offering great low fares to Nice, Krakow, Brussels & more.
Some of the best prices for European airfare currently is through Aer Lingus. They literally have all of the major European destinations at much lower prices than the competition. Even if you do not see your desired city, it is wise to book a flight to Dublin and then transfer on a low-cost European carrier. But be warned, these fares go up and down like yo-yos. I purchased round-trip tickets from NYC-Krakow for June 8th-June 30 at the unbelievably low price (as far as flying to Eastern Europe in the summer is concerned) of $730 with taxes/fees included. The competitors were all charging upwards of $1,200 for the same dates.
So I locked in my flight before the sale ended. Now in the past, before such odd economic times, I would have been safe and watched as my low fare crept slowly up and became much less affordable as my departure date approached. Well those days of book early and save seem to be long gone, for now at least. Because over this past weekend, one month after booking my flight, I saw my fare at $693! Say it isn’t so! Same goes for my April Toronto long weekend. I booked through American for $207, it is now $180. Ouch!
Now I never advise anyone looking to plan a big vacation to wait until the last second to book airline tickets, it is just too risky. But if you are looking at a long weekend in the summer, I would say wait it out and pay less later. If this recent trend in travel is any indicator, sales are going to get more extravagant and competition is going to get fierce.
Say it with me… “Good riddance Staycation!”