Local News

Economy's dip trims travel plans

Posted November 13, 2008 11:34 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2008 7:38 a.m. EST

— 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.