Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Airlines: The only constant is change

Last week, USA Today reported on the dramatic effects that record-high oil prices (and the consequent effect on jet fuel costs) will likely have on air travel. Many of the things we're so fond of complaining about now could become commonplace: fewer non-stop flights, longer layovers, fuller planes—and, of course, much higher fares.

Perhaps it's anyone's guess what the future of air travel holds, but it's hard to argue with the conclusion that things are going to change pretty radically. According to the article, the airlines' cost for jet fuel will rise a whopping 44% this year. United Airlines alone posted a $537 million loss for the first quarter of this year. Oil futures passed a record $120 per barrel today. How does any airline survive the effects of such numbers?

The hard part is finding that balance between making up losses by raising fares, without raising them so high that people will stop flying. Thus, the creative solutions mentioned above: changing routes, fleets, flights and all the other things that will make air travel suck more than it already does.

So while no one knows exactly how things are going to change, it seems safe to say they ain't gonna change for the better.

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