RDU flights are down, airfares and fees take off

Posted November 25, 2008 7:04 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2008 7:42 p.m. EST

— 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.