Local News

Travelers Are Finding Lower Airline Fares Upon Return To Airport

Posted September 19, 2001 5:08 a.m. EDT

— Few people are flying right now. Those who are flying are finding empty airports and tight security, which, in some cases, has ticket agents emptying luggage right at the front counters, but air travelers are also being affected by major schedule changes.

Andy Holloman owns Carlson Wagonlit Travel. He says Midway's shutdown combined with cutbacks from remaining airlines are having an especially big impact on flights in and out of Raleigh-Durham International.

"Fewer choices, they'll have to do more connections, there will be less convenience than there used to be," Holloman says.

For example, flights between RDU and Florida -- a top destination for North Carolinians -- have been cut in half. Now, only three direct flights go to Orlando and two go to Miami. Plus, there are no direct flights to Ft. Lauderdale, which the cruise industry relies on.

Even though less competition usually brings higher fares, the low demand right now has prompted lower fares.

"In the short time -- the next few weeks and months -- they need to put people on the planes and not have them empty, so one of the ways they always do that is dropping prices," he says.

Here are a few examples of the lower fares:

Holloman says a client flying from Raleigh to San Diego, going on a one-day round trip received a fare of $162 round-trip. He says that fare would normally be about $2,000. Another round-trip ticket from RDU to Los Angeles costs $186.

Like the airlines, Holloman just hopes the low fares, combined with the tight security, will get passengers back on planes.

"Our feelings are that the airports are safer now than they've ever been," he says. "It's going to be OK to travel. It's going to be a little less convenient, but people are going to get where they want to, and it's going to be safe."

More cutbacks are expected, which could affect schedules even more and fares could even go lower.