Since You Asked: Oil prices, fewer flights fuel spike in airline price costs

I've been shocked by the cost of airline tickets lately. I even tried different destinations hoping to find relief. Am I the only one who has given up and decided it's cheaper to pay four bucks a gallon and drive?

— Terry E., Medford

Apparently you're not the only Rogue Valley resident whose travel eyes are bigger than their wallet.

Brian Mein at Caveman Travel in Grants Pass tells us that a lot of his customers are stunned when they see ticket prices.

"I'll get 10 people coming in to book a flight, and seven out of 10 will go away because the price is too high," Mein said. "They want to know much it is to fly to Tulsa. We look, and they say, 'Wow, that much?' and have to put it off."

With fewer planes in the air, capacity has been cut and flights are often packed. When that happens, airlines aren't dropping prices to fill seats.

"Petroleum costs are up, and the airlines have to buy fuel, and that's increasing the cost of airline tickets," Mein said.

Alternate destinations may or may not be cheaper; the reality is that some routes are just expensive.

"Some people want to fly to certain destinations, and there is no availability," Mein said. "Do you want to fly to Phoenix and Minneapolis to get to New Orleans? That's ridiculous, but you can find good deals if you're willing to put up with that stuff."

Sometimes good prices do show up on the airline computers, but hesitation kills the deal.

"The biggest problem is people are waiting too long," he said. "It's not the same as it used to be when four weeks was enough to get a good price."

For the risk-takers, deals sometime appear out of nowhere.

"I booked a flight on a Tuesday earlier in June for a price and the next day it was $200 or $300 less," Mein said. "But that's kind of a rarity. Long-range, the prices may come down, but I don't see anything in the future that's going to make that happen. What it is, is what it is."

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