A Delta Air Lines Airbus A320-211 plane taxis past an American Airlines plane at LaGuardia Airport in New York. American Airlines is trying to grab market share in New York, with terminal upgrades at LaGuardia. Delta’s bid to redo its space remains in limbo, bogged down in talks with federal regulators and US Airways Group about access to more landing rights. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Los Angeles: Air travellers, rejoice: Relief from soaring airfares may be just around the corner, at least temporarily. For travellers, it can’t happen soon enough.

In the first three months of the year, the average domestic airfare in the US climbed to $373 (Dh1369.67), up 4.8 per cent from the same period last year, according to the US Transportation Department.

That was on top of an 8.3 per cent increase in fares in 2011 and another 8.3 per cent increase in 2010, according to statistics from the agency.

But air travellers should get a break next month, when airfares are expected to drop 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

That is the prediction from Rick Seaney, chief executive of travel website FareCompare. He said the price drop should affect flights starting around August 21, with the start of the slow fall travel season.

In late August, children start to head back to school as summer vacations end, prompting many airlines to drop their “peak travel season” surcharges, he said.

For example, a round-trip ticket between San Diego and Providence, R.I., sells for about $380 if the flight is in mid-August but drops to $222 if the flight is in September, according to data from FareCompare. A round-trip ticket between Washington and San Francisco sells for about $255 for a mid-August flight but $208 for a September flight, the website said.

“Demand appears to be slightly down this summer from what had been expected,” Seaney said.
“And the airlines are not pushing their luck with further price increase attempts — at least for now.”

US Airways eyes in-flight sales

US Airways is looking into new ways to sell goods and services to passengers for use on the plane and at the passengers’ final destinations.

Under a renewed contract with the Tempe, Arizona airline, Toronto technology firm GuestLogix Inc. announced last week that it would provide US Airways flight attendants with hand-held devices they could use to charge a passenger’s credit card by simply tapping the card on the device.

GuestLogix is also working with US Airways to advertise deals and offers to passengers through emails, onboard announcements and brochures stuffed in seat-back pockets.

The goal is to get travellers to funnel a bigger share of their travel spending through the airlines, said Patrick O’Neill, senior vice president and general manager for GuestLogix USA.

“The airlines have an advantage because they know where we are going,” O’Neill said.

For example, passengers flying on US Airways to Las Vegas might get offers to buy tickets to shows or sporting events in the city, he said.
“We want to make the offers relative to the travelers and the cities they are going to.”

Passengers should begin to see the offers on US Airways flights in the first half of next year, O’Neil said.

Catering to pet owners

As Americans, we love our pets and we love to travel.

How much?

Given the chance, 51 per cent of Us pet owners said they would bring their pets on every trip they took, according to a new survey by the American Automobile Assn. and Best Western International Inc., one of the world’s largest hotel chains.

Among the pet owners surveyed, 95 percent said finding lodging that accepts animals is crucial to travel planning. But if they can’t find pet-friendly hotels or motels, 25 per cent of those surveyed said, they sneak their pets into their rooms anyway.

Not all pets make good travel buddies. Eighty-five per cent of pet owners say they travel with a dog and only 21 per cent bring along a cat, according to the survey.