As we are fast approaching the autumn travel season, the one where family vacations are over and it’s back to business travel, let’s take a look at what we can expect.
This autumn I expect that we will see a continuation of the current trend of the airlines reducing capacity and slowing increasing the average airfare. Yes, there will still be deals and there will be some markets that see increased capacity however overall I expect that there will be a decrease. This decrease will show up in a couple of ways. First, elimination of some flights and fewer frequency of flights in some markets. For example, Delta has already announced that they are eliminating the Salt Lake City to Tokyo nonstop for the season. At the same time and not as widely heralded, they have reduced the frequency of the Salt Lake City to Paris nonstop from 7 days a week to 5 days a week, starting September 1st. Equally surprising is the reduction in the frequency of flights on the new route between LAX and Sydney Australia, which started at daily service and is already being reduced to 6 times a week. It’s not just Delta that is doing this, United has reduced service between Denver and London Heathrow and the other airlines are doing the same thing.
The second way that the airlines are reducing capacity is by switching to smaller aircraft. For example, United used to fly nothing but 737 or A319’s between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, now they are using regional jets for most of the flights. On the international front you see it where airlines like Qantas and Emirates have stopped flying their new A380, double deckers to and from the US and replaced these aircraft with 747-400s and 777s. Taking that step reduces the number of seats available on any flight by as much as 35%.
What does that mean to the business traveler? It means that the already crowded skies will become even more crowded and that getting your advance seat assignments will be more important than ever. Additionally, it will mean that business airfares will increase as the number of empty seats decreases. It will benefit travelers to plan ahead in terms of cost and availability.
This autumn will see an increase in the rates that travelers pay for car rentals. Additionally, the number of hidden surcharges will continue to climb. Don’t think that the “Energy Recovery Fee” is going away and that it isn’t going to develop new siblings. Think of baggage fees applied to car rentals. Why car rental rates will increase is simple, demand is up and supplies are down. There are fewer car rental agencies and their fleets are smaller. This means that the rates will go up.
The bright spot will be in the cost of lodging. In most markets the rates will either hold steady or slip a little bit lower. The hotel industry continues to struggle with overcapacity in many markets and this means that business travelers shouldn’t have to pay so much. It’s much harder for the lodging industry to reduce capacity on a temporary basis since hotels are permanent structures.
In order to get the maximum value out of a travel budget, one should utilize the expertise of Christopherson Business Travel’s experienced agents, who have access to a variety of discounts on airfare, car rentals and hotels. Our agents have the resources, skills and tools to help you reduce your expenses when you travel.