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Could rising gas prices impact airline travel? Here's what travel experts say

Travel experts say travelers can save money on travel by booking far in advance and traveling during the "off-season."

CALIFORNIA, USA — As gas prices continue to rise across the United States, travel experts say it could soon lead to more expensive flights and travel costs.

Here in Sacramento, the average price per gallon of regular gas on Friday, March 11, was $5.28, breaking the record for the highest average price. The statewide average in California is at $5.34 compared to a year ago when the average price of regular gas was $3.74.

Aldo Vazquez, a spokesperson for American Automobile Association [AAA], says airfare may be impacted if the airlines did not buy futures to cover for uncertainty. If airlines did not buy futures, then they would need to increase fuel surcharges as crude oil prices increase.

"Jet fuel has to be micro-processed (refined) to a greater degree than the fuel used for cars and it is costly to do so," Vazquez said.

Southwest Airlines is one of those airlines Vazquez described that has locked in prices with a contract.

"We're carefully monitoring the cost of energy and we're hedged about 2/3 for this year," a statement from Southwest Airlines says. "That allows us to ride through the up and down swings of fuel prices without having to translate that volatility directly into pricing."

Christie Hudson, a spokesperson for Expedia, says the price of airfare is trending upwards right now for the summer months due to a variety of factors such as fuel prices, loosening of travel restrictions, and the demand for travel increasing as COVID winds down.

However, according to AAA, historically, high gas prices have not deterred people from their summer travel plans, so he does not anticipate that the recent spike in gas prices will.

"Although prices are high and are expected to continue to rise, this may not discourage travelers who are feeling pent-up vacation deprivation and are determined to have their long-overdue summer getaway," Hudson said.

Dawn Johnson, the Creator of Experiences with Coastline Travel Advisors in Sacramento, says her business has accelerated over the past few months, surpassing the number of bookings she had pre-pandemic. She shared a few tips on how travelers can save money on travel:

  • Plan ahead and book early because as it gets closer to the time of travel, there is a lot less inventory which drives the price of travel higher since there is less supply left
  • Avoid traveling during peak periods such as Spring Break and the holiday season

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