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Airline fares going up: Find out how to get deals

March 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Jet fuel prices are over $3 a gallon. That's the highest reading in March since 2008.

This year has been the year of air fares taking off just like a passenger plane. Airlines are responding to rising oil prices by hiking fares. So, if you're planning to travel, should you buy tickets now, or wait?

We have seen four increases in air fares so far this year when we saw only six increases in all of last year.

Tama Taylor Holve of Willett Travel in Studio City said the fare increases are with both domestic and international flights, although they're called different things.

"On the domestic market you see that the actual fares are increasing," Holve said. "Usually on the international fares, they add a fuel surcharge, so you actually see how much more you are paying for fuel."

Examples of fare increases? Delta has added $20 to the cost of a roundtrip ticket, American raised their roundtrip fare by $10. And so has Continental, United and US Airways.

But Southwest, Jet Blue and Air Tran are holding steady with no fare increase yet. Despite the increases, there still are some travel bargains.

"You can do roundtrip right now to Dallas right now for about $200," Holve said. "New York, not much more than that. And roundtrip to Berlin, nonstop for a little over $700. There are some deals out there."

One way to get more for your money is to go to a professional travel agent. Many times they can get you more than just a discounted airfare.

"We can do something, say it's $3,000 booking it online, and it's very probable that we can get something for $2,300, including breakfast, including an ocean-front room, upgrade to a balcony, etcetera," Holve said.

One good thing about air fares, unlike gas prices that go up fast and then drop very slowly, is that air fares can go up fast and down just as fast because of competition. So if you're willing to wait for the price of oil to drop, then you may not have to pay an increase or a surcharge later on.