October 1, 2009

U.S. air fares low, but inching up

Air fare experts say discount fares offered by U.S. airlines are on the rise and may continue to increase.

The writing is on the wall. We had nine months of great travel bargains in 2009. Air travelers will be paying much more (next year) than then did in early 2009, said Tom Parsons of BestFares.com, USA Today reported Thursday.

New fares announced by Southwest Airlines include a $118 fare for round trip service between Phoenix and San Diego and a $296 ticket connecting Baltimore to Los Angeles.

But coast-to-coast sale price fares at Southwest have traditionally been set at $198, the newspaper said.

Prices are stabilizing, said Genevieve Brown at Travelocity.

Travelocity said fares were down 14 percent from a year ago in mid-September. In July, fares were 15 percent cheaper compared to 12 months earlier.

At the same time, demand for international travel is rising relative to a year ago.

In July, international travel was down 3.2 percent compared to July 2008. That year-over-year drop has fallen to 2.5 percent, the International Air Transport Association said.