Will You Fly This Summer?

Since I’ve got one book out on traveling to Mexico and Central America and another one called The World’s Cheapest Destinations, naturally I’m going to encourage people to fly somewhere far and go exploring. This summer though, I wouldn’t blame anyone who said, “Screw that” and decided to vacation close to home.

Which leads us to my MSNBC column this week, Traveling in Your Own Backyard.

This might be the year, however, when most people would be better off staying close to home. Besides the well-publicized airline woes, we’re also facing record-high gas prices for that family road trip, and hotel rates are hovering near record highs as well, especially in large cities.

I’m taking two far-flung family vacations this summer, but I’ll admit I hesitated a bit before hitting the purchase button on those airline tickets, anticipating the hassles that await us. I did stick with airlines I feel confident about though, which is a pretty short list in the U.S.

As Christopher Elliott noted last week, there’s a good chance we’ll see a new trend: that a lot of people are going to voluntarily put themselves on a no-fly list this summer travel season.

Now American Airlines is apparently trying to weasel out of compensating bumped passengers, as if they haven’t gotten enough bad press this past month for how they handled their maintenance crisis. United says it’s going to lay off 1,100 employees. At this point, where are they going to find 1,100 employees extra employees to let go? What are they going to do: eliminate checked luggage and put vending machines in coach?

Andy Rooney’s not going anywhere, but what about you? My fellow Americans, will you still fly this summer? Will you fly a foreign airline out of your home country, avoiding the sad domestic ones? Or will you figure out what’s within easy driving distance instead?

  1. bryan in san francisco

    for this summer i’ve purchased an Amtrak rail pass, valid for some of their dramatic routes in the west, and it’s gonna be awesome (and cheap, and emissions-free).

  2. Nathan

    I’m doing my big ’round-the-world trip this summer (lasting for a year or so) and won’t be deterred by flight prices. It might take more out of my budget than I thought, but I can just stay somewhere longer.

    After scouring the ‘net for a while, I actually got a one-way ticket from Chicago to Lima, Peru for $300. Purchased in March. Can’t complain there.

  3. tim

    Bryan, I am with you there. We’re flying to Portland, but then are going by train to Seattle, Vancouver, and Banff. Really looking forward to that. If only you could do this in more parts of North America.

  4. Joe

    Hi Tim, I watched the airfares ahead of time and am heading down to Lima in July for a week. Round-trip from ATL – approx. $450, a nice B&B for $49/nite that includes airport pickup and drop off. I’ve paid attention to all your advice, and it looks like I’ll have a great week in Lima for around $1000. Not bad.

  5. tim

    Joe and Nathan,

    Congrats to both of you for scoring great deals to Peru. (When I went down there I manged to use mileage, which was only 35,000 on Delta since it’s considered “northern South America.”) You guys will have a blast–one of my favorite countries. The funny/sad thing is, you all both spent less than I’m spending to go fly from home to Portland and then Vancouver to home this summer.

  6. Chris Mueller

    I have to admit that when it came to my last vacation, I opted to drive to my destination (13 hours one-way) because I literally did not want to deal with the hassles of the airlines. I love to fly and I have the miles to prove it, but I did not want to subject my family to the fate that we probably would have been subjected to (not sitting together, being bumped form a flight and unable to leave ’til the next day, sleeping in the airport, etc.) during the busy summer months that I would get away with being a single traveler.

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