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Airlines Hint at Fare Increases on Horizon

We are currently traveling in a relatively golden era of airfares. Fares have been on the cheaper side for a while, thanks to low fuel prices and a healthy supply of available seats.

However, there are signs that airlines may begin urging prices upward in the coming months.

Delta said passengers paid about 1 percent more to travel over the months of April, May, and June, compared to last year. The airline expects that trend to continue into the second half of the year. The airline cited a “strengthening demand environment” and “our commercial initiatives to provide customers more choice, an innovative experience, and a broader global network.” Translation? More people are flying, and we developed some new ways to charge them.

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According to CNN Money, American is seeing and predicting similar trends.

What’s a traveler to do? First off, remember that airfares are always in flux, both in the short- and long-term. Overall, the recent long-term trend has been toward less expensive fares. That’s been great for our wallets, but that trend has to stall out at some point. Airlines are always seeking the right balance to bring the most profit, and they’ll find it eventually.

Second, if you have travel planned (but not purchased) for later this year, start keeping an eye on fares now. We have two major airlines indicating that higher fares may be on the way, but it’s still only two airlines. Rival carriers may not be on that bandwagon yet. Benchmark prices for your trips now, knowing we might be heading into a season of increasing airfares.

As for the short-term, this doesn’t seem like something to lose (too much) sleep over. Delta is describing a fairly minuscule increase in prices, and travelers are still enjoying a favorable pricing environment. Just keep your eyes out for the inevitable airfare rebound.

Readers, have you noticed an uptick in airfares lately?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

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