How Current Events Will Affect the Cost of Summer Travel

jet star airplane refueling

Creating urgency is one of the most effective tools available in sales.  While supplies last. For a limited time only. Sound familiar?  Yet for reasons both real and imagined, the relationship of supply and demand is the very thing economies are based on. Sometimes the supply does go down resulting in your getting stuck paying through the nose.  If you wait too long this year to buy what you feel is an expensive plane ticket now, you’ll likely regret it.

Having long worked in the travel industry and been a traveler, I have often made the comparison that buying travel (and travel itself) is a lot like gambling.  You can speak in odds and trends, but sometimes the deal you rave about one day is the one you lament the next.  Sometimes an amazing deal makes the vacation of a lifetime a reality. Other times, the reality of deal simply makes certain vacations unattainable for most people.

Weather. Civic unrest. Natural disasters. All of these things can affect not only the cost of your travel, but also the quality of it.

This post is about cost.  One of the single most reliable factors in calculating the cost of travel is the cost of fuel and, boy, is it likely to get expensive.  Already, the industry is seeing the first of, yet again, more surcharges designed to offset the POSSIBILITY of fuel costs going up. The nebulous realm of petroleum speculation and other such futures investing is a complicated one.  There are a number of factors making this a year likely to see extremely expensive fuel costs.  Perhaps the largest factor being the unrest in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East.  Right now, as I understand it, there is little supply problem.  However, the odds are that supply might be damaged in the future and, because this MIGHT happen, the futures market is creating a spike in fuel costs that will likely last for months.  Already, prices are expected to hit $110 a barrel this year.

Could the airlines drop their fuel surcharges if the price of fuel goes down?  Sure they could and sometimes it even happens.    However, it is my understanding (from some light conversations with some petroleum professionals) that only something on the scale of Obama opening the United States Strategic Reserves or Putin deciding Mother Russia is going to offer worldwide discounts would lower the price of oil.  These moves are unlikely.

To make a long story short, this year, all of the urgency created around buying your ticket is a lot more true than it normally is. This year, buy as early as you can folks.