Memorial Day is the traditional start of the summer travel season, and AAA predicts more than 39 million Americans will travel this weekend. But travel costs are also skyrocketing and all the planes are full — and while Americans want to travel now, more than ever, it’s hard to find a deal.
Airlines, faced with huge staff shortages ranging from pilots to maintenance workers are slashing their schedules, because at the very time they want to add to the number of their flights and routes, they can’t. JetBlue has already cut 27 routes for the summer. Delta just announced they were cutting 100 flights a day for the summer. Southwest has jettisoned about 10% of its flight schedule.
At the beginning of this year, airline ticket prices were rising at the rate of 7% a month — which was expected as demand started to rise. But now, airline fares are going up about 7% every four days, and that’s compounded. Six weeks ago, a roundtrip fare between Los Angeles and San Francisco — a flight that lasts about 38 minutes — was $93. Last week, that same flight cost $350. For a family of four in Los Angeles who wants to visit San Francisco, airline tickets jumped to more than $1,400.
The result? That family is going to drive. And for many Americans, trips of under 600 miles are now being done by car, in spite of rising gas prices — which hit record highs in recent weeks and which AAA said stood at an average $4.59 ahead of the holiday weekend.