July 04--Get ready for ticket shock if you plan to fly somewhere this summer for business or pleasure.
"Every time we quote a price, we grit our teeth," said Ike Reynolds of Reynolds Travel in Columbus.
Rising prices for international and domestic flights, as well as a list of add-on charges, are a trend in the airline industry, one that's being felt by business and leisure passengers.
The average cost for a domestic flight is up 4.5 percent from a year ago, to $399.48, based on data from Travelocity.com. An international ticket is about 2.3 percent more expensive than a year ago, at $991.82.
The average price for a domestic airline ticket from Port Columbus was $395.15 at the end of 2013, the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. This is a 5.6 percent jump from the end of 2012 and a 20.5 percent rise from the end of 2010.
These recent increases come in the midst of the busiest travel time of the year. Airlines for America, an industry trade group, forecast that travel on U.S. carriers this summer will be the highest in six years.
"Unless and until we see meaningful expansion among existing airlines or new competitors successfully launch service, we will continue to see airfares increase and flights remain crowded," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.
About 210 million passengers, or 2.3 million a day, will travel on U.S. airlines from June 1 to Aug. 31, Airlines for America said. That's up 1.5 percent from 2013.
Reynolds warns that the increase in fliers could change if prices continue to soar.
"It's about $1,500 to get to Europe this summer, and it used to be $800 or $900 not too long ago.
"We are going to get to the point where the leisure traveler, more so than the business traveler, is going to stay home. Business travelers take a different perspective and see it as an investment they get back, but leisure travelers only have so much money in their pockets."
And more of this money is going to pay for baggage fees, premium seating and the like.
"These fees are our biggest concern," said Tammy Krings, CEO of TS24, a New Albany travel agency.
"The ancillary fees are averaging an additional $80 per ticket, and for leisure travelers, they sometimes come as a surprise," she said.
Krings expects the fees will continue to rise.
Airlines are "exploring every way they can to dissect the services deliverable to clients, and anything they can isolate and put a fee on, they likely will," she said.
The taxes that passengers pay on an airline ticket are also on the rise, especially for international flights, Reynolds said.
"When you fly to Europe, about half the cost is taxes," he said. "And, starting July 21, the Transportation Security Administration is going to double the taxes they charge for security to $11.20" on all flights originating from the United States.
The average price of a domestic airline ticket from Cincinnati was $510.36 at the end of 2013, the second-highest in the nation, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average price was $458.53 from Cleveland.
Information from Bloomberg News was included in this story.
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