March 26, 2013 | Deleted Users Posts Summer Upcoming Attractions Now Coming to an Airport Near You Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Higher Ticket Prices? Positively. Chris Gash No surprise here. But the AA-US Airways merger means less competition. In 2012 there were seven successful airfare hikes and we expect to see at least as many this year. Oil is one reason for more hikes; we don’t expect the price of a barrel of oil to drop to levels where the airlines could lower prices; oil would have to be in the $70 to $75 range, down from its current $93. Plus it would have to stay in that range for about four to six months in order for airlines to really feel it in lower jet-fuel bills. By the way, one reason airlines want to raise some ticket prices is that they’re already dirt cheap. Skeptical? Consider that a winter flight to Europe goes for around $750 to $800 round-trip. About $450 of that cost is a fuel surcharge and another $150 or so is for government and airport taxes, so the cost of the airfare itself can be less than a hundred bucks each way! Finally, there’s the matter of demand for air travel. At larger airports it’s been holding relatively steady and when people want to fly, there is no incentive to drop ticket prices. Fee Bundle Mania It’s not that airlines are raising fees; they’ll actually lower some but you may wind up spending more. Confused? It’s all about the bundling; airlines will package two or more fee-based services and discount the bundle. Maybe you only want one of the services but you may have to take the “bundle.” American did this last month with its Choice Essential and Choice Plus options (don’t you love buzzwords like “choice”?), which provide such options as early boarding and a free bag. Delta has something similar with its Lift and Ascend programs. Both can be great for frugal-minded business travelers who want some of the comforts of business class without the steep price tag. We suspect the vast majority of vacation flyers will exercise their right to choose no fees at all. Sequestration Makes Skies Less Friendly If you’re already a nervous flyer, your palms are about to get more sweaty. Thanks to the political chicken being played in Congress, the sequestration that has resulted from an inability to pass a budget means across-the-board spending cuts. That includes air traffic control towers. The FAA announced it will close 149 towers in April because of budget constraints. Many of the towers are at small airports with less than 150,000 total flights each year. That means pilots will have to use a shared radio frequency to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves. That’s comforting. For example, the potential loss of busy Trenton-Mercer Airport’s control tower leaves everyone from air-traffic controllers, pilots and flight school operators wondering how safe t he runways will be during departures and landings. Frontier Airlines says it will continue fly here using an instrument landing system. Not Putting Anything In The Overhead Bin? American Airlines Is Seeing What Happens If You Board First One thing that irritates a lot of travelers is waiting forever to board a plane because the passengers in front of you are jamming their carry-ons into the overhead bins. But now AA is testing to see what happens when it gives priority boarding to travelers who won’t be using the overhead storage. The L.A. Times’ Hugo Martin says that the process is being tested by AA in at least four U.S. airports – Baltimore, Austin, Washington-Dulles, and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood – and that it allows coach passengers without bags to board after first- after business-class travelers, but ahead of the rest of the economy travelers with bags. Alaska, Southwest and Frontier have all been doing it for a while and it seems to work. Two main reasons it makes sense? It speeds up the boarding process and it incentivizes people to check their bags, which is a source of revenue for the airline. New Sliding Plane Seats: A Brilliant Idea? Imagine not being stuck behind people bogging down the aisle, slowly loading their carry-ons into the overhead bins. Well, a new airline seat design is aiming to make boarding quicker and easier. Denver firm Molon Labe Designs, claims its Side-Slip Seat could cut boarding times in half. How? It’s an aisle seat that slides on top of the middle seat, expanding the aisle space from 48 centimetres to 109cm so passengers are more easily able to walk around others. It is returned to its normal position once boarding is over. The seat would also save airlines money by limiting the amount of time planes sit on the tarmac. It will also cut fuel costs. The design has been shown to Airbus and Boeing and a prototype is expected to be ready by November. FlyersRights’ Great Partners! Flybag™ – the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. Enter code: ISTILLFLY and you’ll receive one dollar off AND another dollar will be donated to FlyersRights! Visit Flybags.com. Check out the FlyersRights wine shop! You can’t miss with any of these wines. Final Word Just a reminder, FlyersRights is funded completely through donations, and our Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, to which contributions are tax deductible.