RDU flights are down, airfares and fees take off

Posted November 25, 2008

— Officials expect 280,000 people to travel through the Raleigh-Durham International Airport this Thanksgiving holiday. That's a 7 percent drop from last year.

Overall, the number of flights at RDU has decreased, making Raleigh one of the top 10 cities in the country where it is difficult to find a bargain, travel experts say.

“There actually has been a 12 percent reduction in number of seats available for passengers,” RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

While flights may be down, airfares are up.

“The price of oil has been cut in half and that’s great news for the airlines, but you’re not seeing a lot of discounting to the consumer quite yet,” local travel agent Tony Maupin says.

In addition, more fees have been added for flying. Some airlines are charging for checked bags and snacks on board. Fees are also being charged for window or aisle seats and for seats closer to the front of the plane.

“Many carriers will make more money off residual fees than they will off the seat they’re selling for you and I to sit in. So, that’s a tremendous profit margin for the airlines,” Maupin said. “We’re not going to see that go away anytime soon.”

RDU officials say the number of flights should increase again.

“The airline industry is cyclical, and what we have found before is that when flights are decreased, they will come back as the economy allows it,” Hamlin said.


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  • foetine Nov 26, 2008

    Customer service is the first thing cut away when an American company decides they need to cut back. Heaven forbid the CEO and his pack of magpies talk a salary hit. When CPL decided to cut back, they still had money for their heads to get millions of dollars worth of bonus checks. But when it came to the $25K for the person answering the phone - all they got was a pink slip.

    MBA schools must be shut down. They're killing America.

  • Zach1 Nov 26, 2008

    DrJ, you are on the money.

  • LuvLivingInCary Nov 26, 2008

    you guys are actually wrong on must of this and the article is correct. i've flown for many years out of the rdu and i have never paid as much as i have this year. so i've cut my travel way back which corresponds with the trend at the airport. maybe i'm an average joe but my perceptions match the public. with all the hassles of security and the baggage charges, it's a road trip for me.

  • Val36 Nov 26, 2008

    I used to love flying and traveled quite a bit for business between NC and other states. Even after 9/11 things were still pretty good. But recently the customer service stinks and all of the fees makes me just want to stay away from flying as much as possible.

    The American industry would do well to start learning from some of the overseas carriers when it comes to customer service. This past Spring I flew on a few different carriers while overseas and each one was a joy. No extraneous fees. Meals were hot and tasted fresh. Wine was offered for free even beyond the first tiny bottle they handed out. Movies were on demand with full remote control over the entertainment system and there was a standard outlet for my laptop right at the seat.

  • The Oracle Nov 26, 2008

    "There has never been and never will be bargin airfares out of RDU"

    Not quite true. There were some great deals when Midway and Piedmont were here.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 26, 2008

    Fly SWA. They offer the most value for the ticket price.

  • hjeck32544 Nov 26, 2008

    Its not southwest and airtran cutting capacity,both use the same type of aircraft.Its the BIg UNION CARRIERS(Delta.AA.USScaresways)737 doesnt fit into a RJ!!!!

  • Tin Nutt Nov 26, 2008

    TaxMan - you really bring your own alcohol on board? - that is a great idea! The airlines seem like a loser business all the way around, with difficult labor issues and extremely variable costs of operating (fuel). Has anyone ever known an airline to make money in the last 20-30 years? Even with all the new fees I bet they still lose money... wonder when the airlines are going to ask for a bailout.

  • HadEnough Nov 26, 2008

    There has never been and never will be bargin airfares out of RDU

  • aslanrules Nov 25, 2008

    Don't fly US Airways...They charge you for air to breathe.