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Economy's dip trims travel plans

Posted November 13, 2008
Updated November 14, 2008

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— The airline industry is feeling the impact of the turbulent economy.

Some travelers coming in and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport Thursday evening told WRAL News that flying just isn't what it used to be as some airlines charge for food and others for checked baggage.

“I was suppose to be going on a vacation to Hawaii, but because of the cost of airline tickets, we're not going,” Tracey Harbour said.

Business travelers are also eying the bottom line and planning ahead to find lower fares.

“Before, we were sort of last-minute and didn't think twice about it,” business traveler Chris Pyle said of flying.

To help cover the extra costs, most U.S. carriers are now charging fees for services they once offered for free. Most recently, for example, American Airlines began charging fees to check baggage. Other carriers, such as U.S. Airways and United Airlines are expected to follow suit.

“It has affected travel because it's costing more in a difficult time,” business traveler Charles Vernon said.

Added baggage fees and additional fuel taxes are the airlines' way of upping the price of a ticket without adding to the base fare, a travel expert said.

“People are looking more closely at where they're going and what they're spending,” said Michael Savitt, with BeeLine Travel.

Savitt said that last month, when the economy started to tank, telephones in the office went silent. He says lately; however, it has picked up somewhat, depending on the type of travel.

“Some of the airfares are a little low in some places. Some are higher in other places. So, it's really a mixed bag. Although as I said, business is down a little bit,” Savitt said.

“I'm hoping by next June, we'll be able to do the vacation that we weren't able to do this year,” Harbour said.

Savitt said the economy is also changing travelers' destination. He says people interested in going to Arizona are taking a second look at destinations like Las Vegas and Florida, where some of the most cost-efficient deals are at the moment.

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  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    Hello, I remember when you were flying and you would get a free soda pop. Where are those days? has greed really taken only. With the up-coming holidays maybe the air-lines will see the cut as people stay at home or simply drive themselves. Even riding a train is expensive. I would like the good old days back. How about you?

  • angora2 Nov 14, 2008

    Well, I do get paid to fly, and it isn't fun. With the checked luggage charges, people are packing carry-ons until they're about to explode, then checking them plane-side because they don't fit in the bins. On my last flight, there were 39 plane-side bags! IMO, they have exchanged one headache for another and everyone suffers as a result. Now, even if your carry-on is small, having wheels makes it an automatic plane-side check when traveling on a commuter.

  • PTA mom Nov 14, 2008

    Rented a big car this year to fit my large family, luggage and presents for our annual trip to see the folks back home- net savings (after subtracting out rental costs and estimated gas) $2,000.00. Cost 12 extra hours (round trip) spent travelling by car instead of by plane. No brainer decision for us.

  • wildervb Nov 14, 2008

    "Bring back the old day of air travel when it was a luxury. The airlines compete with the train and bus. It needs to be as it once was. Not everyone can afford to fly so they chose an alternate means of getting from point A to point B."

    Not sure if we want to go back to those days. In the late 70's airlines were deregulated, this created competition that didn't exist before among the airlines. It also lead to large price drops that pushed the older, less efficient airlines out of business. (I used to work for Pan Am).

    Passenger Train Service in the US has been neglected for years, there's no reason why we couldn't upgrade our rail lines and actually make trains competitive with airlines, this might be one way to keep air travel reasonable.

  • raldude Nov 14, 2008

    Bring back the old day of air travel when it was a luxury. The airlines compete with the train and bus. It needs to be as it once was. Not everyone can afford to fly so they chose an alternate means of getting from point A to point B.

  • food4thought Nov 14, 2008

    i thought the checked bag fees were a result of the increasing fuel prices... funnny how these fees are not being removed as the cost of fuel is declining.

  • LuvLivingInCary Nov 14, 2008

    i would love to travel for the holidays but ticket prices are double and now baggage fees. the airlines are going to get everything they deserve when the planes fly half empty for the holidays. just a mild form of gouging...

  • whiffleball Nov 14, 2008

    Request for more bailout money on the horizon.

  • BULLDOZER Nov 14, 2008

    Finally, people who can't afford things are wising up and doing without or staying home. It's time Americans(most) start living on way LESS than they make. Create a long term emergency plan for financial survival in the off times and save for their own retirement.

  • Southern Fried Yankee Nov 14, 2008

    Maybe if the airlines drop the First Bag Fee, the Second Bag Fee, the Fuel Surcharge, the Real Person Getting You the Ticket Charge, We Just Want More Money Assessment Fee, and the We Really Don't Care About You as a Customer Fee, the airlines might get more traffic this season.

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