This week two airlines – Southwest and Qantas – announced fare hikes due to the rising price of jet fuel, which is their biggest operating cost.
The current trading price of Singapore jet fuel is $136.95 a barrel, the highest it`s been in three years. Coupled with a soft worldwide economy, this spells trouble for airlines which have already been struggling for years, not only cutting back on customer luxuries like free in-flight meals and movies but filing for bankruptcy and merging with other airlines in order to keep their planes in the air. Average airfares rose almost 17 percent last year and airlines have initiated price increases five times so far this year.
Southwest will raise their ticket prices between $4 and $10 per round-trip ticket; it’s their third increase this year. Qantas Airways will hike their domestic fares on April 5, in the amount of $7 to $30 per ticket. Jamie Baker, airline analyst for J.P. Morgan, predicted that all major airlines would follow suit in hiking their fares, saying “Our records do not show any Southwest fare increase that has failed to gain broader industry traction.” Indeed, Delta Air lines, US Airways, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines all increased their prices in the wake of Southwest`s Monday announcement.
Change of Plans?
As Americans begin to look forward to summer vacations, rising gas prices don`t make flying or driving look particularly appealing. The U.S. Travel Association released a gas price survey this week that showed 57 percent of those surveyed would change their plans to take a road trip if gas prices increase.
Most people still plan to travel, however, with about 40 percent of people planning to fly to a vacation spot saying they would look for lower airfares before canceling their trip, and only 10 percent of business travelers indicating they would search for alternate transportation if prices continue to climb. When it comes to traveling, many people feel they have no choice but to grin and bear the higher costs of gassing up their cars or hopping a flight.
Don`t Scrap Your Vacation for a Staycation
Here at Credit-Land.com, we`ve written a lot lately about high gas prices and how to save money on gas by using gas rewards credit cards. Similarly, travelers can save on airfares by using credit cards that give discounts on air travel, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa card, which offers 25,000 bonus points just for signing up, which can be redeemed for $400 on qualifying fares – enough for a free round trip flight, depending on your destination. The card comes with a $59 annual fee, which may be worth it if you get a free flight.
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Another option is to use a rewards card that lets you use your bonus miles on any airline, instead of an airline-specific card like the one from Southwest. Their credit card lets you redeem your rewards on any airline, any time, with no blackout dates. Other benefits it offers:
- Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase you make
- Get a one-time 10,000 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months
- Earn even more miles – up to 15 miles per dollar – when you shop at their PerkCentral retail network
- Your miles never expire, and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees, saving you money when you travel abroad
- No annual fee
Fly Away Home
The cost of filling up your tank or flying overseas may be skyrocketing, but smart consumers can take the edge off high prices by using credit cards to their advantage. Until oil prices start to go down, shrewd use of a rewards credit card the best bet for travelers looking to save money.