Business robust despite high airfares, according to Travel Leaders survey

By Kate Rice
Airfares to some destinations are going up, but have not had a chilling effect on bookings, according to Travel Leaders Group’s 2013 Fall Travel Trends survey of its agencies.

Eighty-five percent of the 946 U.S. travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents polled for the survey said that their overall bookings are the same as or higher than they were at the same time last year. That compares to 80.9% last year.

An increasing number of agents said they were booking higher fares. Just under 29% of agents said that the average fare to Hawaii was $1,000 or more, a 6-point increase over a year earlier. Forty-two percent said that the average cost of an airline ticket to Europe was $1,300 or more, up from 31.1% a year earlier.

More agents were seeing their customers spend more for air domestically, with 17.9% saying domestic fares in the lower 48 states were $500 to $599, compared with 12.6% in 2012. And 67.5% said that the average cost of an airline ticket was between $300 and $499, down from 73.6% a year earlier.

Barry Liben, Travel Leaders Group CEO, said that some of the increases could be for perks such as extra legroom. He added that the fact that more agents are reporting that their bookings are the same as or higher than a year ago, shows that American business and leisure travelers are not scaling back.

“Perhaps they have adjusted to the new reality of airline pricing because demand for travel is robust,” Liben said.

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