Why is Airfare so Expensive? The 5 Factors Ruining Your Travel Plans

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Got the itch to explore? Plan a trip and book a flight, but watch those dollar signs because tickets turn pricy quickly. It can seem like prices for airline tickets increase with a change of the wind but in reality, specific factors shift the range from reasonable to downright ridiculous. Some things to consider while planning your trip, whether your travel plans consist of vacation or going to see family, can include arrival and departure dates, the best airline for your needs, size of the airport and plenty of other things you might not consider at first.

These 5 factors will help you answer the question, “Why is airfare so expensive?”

1. Multiple Flights and Layovers for Long Distances

Students have many reasons for traveling but going home occurs the most frequently. Holiday breaks provide a time to kick back and relax without the stress of exams. However, attending school far from your family has the added worry of travel. You could even have to change time zones, adding to the real college problem of sleep deprivation. Going long distances, you have to schedule multiple flights with layovers in places that you’ve never even been before. This induces more stress than taking that statistics exam.

2. Flying out of smaller airports

Rachael Howing, a Penn State University sophomore that lives in California, said, “When we had miles I flew out of State College because of the convenience and it wasn’t like we had to pay for it. Now I bus to Philly and fly to San Francisco from there because the State College airport is very expensive.” When comparing State College and Philadelphia, it makes sense why you would pay $30 for a bus ticket to the city rather than an additional $300 for the closer but smaller State College airport. This cheaper rate goes for most big cities. “Flights into smaller airports are a little more expensive than flights into a larger hub airport, so to save money, if you can, take flights into larger airports,” said Firefly Travel agent Dawn Merck. “Airlines base the prices for tickets on many various things, such as size of aircraft, fuel, cost to operate and even days of the week.”

3. Third party up-charges

One of the things that students struggle to navigate: the use of third-party ticket sales with sites such as Expedia. While it might seem easier for students traveling home, it may not prove the best option for securing the cheapest airfare. You should always call the airline directly for the best price options. If you have to change your plans for any reason, whether because of a sudden cancelation or change in destination, you are in direct contact with the company and you can rearrange flights without adding more dollar signs. Merck’s advised to start directly at the source. Calling airlines or using their websites remains the quickest option. If you do happen to see a cheaper price listed on Expedia, they will most likely price match for you. For people who want to go online and book their own flight, she recommended cheapoair.com.

4. Not using the expertise of travel agents

Want to know which airline has the most legroom? An experienced travel agent can tell you. Want to know how to stay safe? Ask your travel agent too. “For vacation travel always consult a travel agent when traveling afar, and travel in groups if possible,” said Merck. Traveling with a group of friends you will experience more fun anyways. In regards to price, travel agents also know the ins and outs your price search, such as how your cookies online can affect the prices you find when you search and how different times of year and even the week can affect prices as well. “Slower days of travel will have your lower prices. Also, the more flexible you are on your dates the better prices you can find,” Merck said. You can search for this info yourself, but a travel agent has the added bonus of negotiation skills.

5. Added transportation costs to and from the airport

“One of the best things to make sure you have, with any travel plans to an unknown city, is transportation from the airport and back to the airport,” Merck said. Don’t rack up huge fees for cabs. Try to find creative options to get from point A to B to C all the way to Z. No matter what your traveling needs, make sure that these things come up in your planning process: buying your tickets ASAP, finding a large airport (even with a little less convenience), setting up transportation to and from the airport and consider consulting a travel agent for those far away destinations. Pack your bags and start scoping out locations because, with these tips, your future fills with travel and adventure.

Sarah is a junior at Penn State studying Journalism and Digital Media Trends and Analytics. In her free time, you can find her planning a trip with friends or with her nose in a book. Originally from South Carolina, she is likely to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine.

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