Packed To Travel But No Seats To Be Found?

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6/11/2008 – Packed To Travel But No Seats To Be Found?

You’ve planned your trip, you’ve decided what cameras to pack and spent hours staring at National Geographic……….now its time to book your flights. As you scan the flights you looked at last month you notice something odd, many of the flights you were considering flying are no longer there. What happened?

The fourth quarter of 2008 has become somewhat of a black hole for travelers using conventional booking methods (and in many cases those using unconventional booking methods). Why has the 4th quarter of 2008 become a black hole? Because there are approximately 59,700,000 less available seats being flown by airlines in this quarter of the year.

This seat shortage is especially obvious for travelers in the United States. Of the approximately 59.7-million seats reduced this quarter, nearly 20-million of those seats are directly from the domestic market in the United States.

This shift in available seats does affect the cost of travel. As the price of fuel comes down, and some airlines reduce or eliminate their fuel surcharge fees, the issue becomes supply and demand.

How can you find seats for your journey, and at a more affordable price? It all depends on your flexibility and how you choose to travel.

Some tactics are to have flexible dates and not worry about your connections. Looking at a recent itinerary for a traveler flying between New York’s JFK and Sydney, Australia (SYD), I found flights ranging from US$1873 to $8052 in economy class (travel dates 15-Dec to 22-Dec).

A common choice on the JFK-SYD route is often Qantas Airways, the Australian national flag carrier. The route flies JFK-LAX-SYD, takes 22hrs and 40min, for the above dates the fare is US$2618

A passenger tied to earning One World miles, which Qantas is a member of, can also fly on Japan Airlines (JAL) and save US$513, flying JFK-Tokyo (NRT)-SYD, flying 23hrs 45min for a fare of $US2103.

For the person I was helping find a flight down to SYD from JFK, the 1hr difference in travel time equaled them saving enough money to cover 3.82 nights at the Hilton Sydney, in the City Centre. I don’t know about you, but I’ll kill an hour to be able to cover nearly 4 nights in a nice hotel.

As a bonus to picking up the cost difference of 3.82 nights in a hotel, but switching from Qantas to JAL this flyer will have in-seat power for their long haul flights, something not offered on the Qantas flight. For me, in-seat power is a huge plus, allowing me to charge my batteries, watch movies and of course work.

When looking for flights to Europe, many flights to, or through, London are more expensive that flying through other European cities. The taxes for travel to London, and the expense airline endure dealing with London’s Heathrow Airport keep those fares higher. Yes, London can be a convenient layover with some quality airlines, but flying through Paris (CDG), Amsterdam (AMS), Frankfurt (FRA) , Zurich (ZRH) can be a significant cost savings.

As the seats capacity continues to reduce you need to look at alternatives that will allow you get out and see the world, without relying on the time-honoured conventional methods.

As a flyer you need to explore regional fares, such as a ‘Euro-pass‘, ‘North America pass‘, or ‘Asia-pass‘, etc etc that are offered by all three major international airline alliances. These passes can be very cost effective and reduce your overall costs.

No, go repack your camera bag, rethink your trip and start replanning your trip!

Happy Flying!

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