Holiday travel rates irk students

As students wrap-up final exams and prepare to head home to sink their teeth into a holiday feast, some may be wary of the recent hike in airline ticket prices.

According to a recent article in USA Today, Delta Air Lines Co., Southwest, United and American Airlines have all increased both one-way and roundtrip airfares between $5-$20.

The price hike marks the eighth time major carriers have raised fares this year.

For some students the airfare cost increase may pose its share of financial problems.

“I think it is capitalism because they [airline companies] are raising prices right around the holidays…I think it is a problem, but this always use to happen,” said Christopher Bryant, a senior business administration student from Detroit. Bryant, 21, said students have no choice but to deal with the price increase.

“At the end of the day you really can’t do much because students need to get home and see their loved ones, and the cost change haven’t changed that much,” Bryant said., an online airfare ticket company geared towards college students, offers discounted fares for students traveling home during the holiday season.

Atle Skalleberg, marketing director for, said students save 13 percent at as compared to fares available to the general public on other travel Web Sites.

“Because we check to make sure every person that buys a ticket is a student, the airlines are willing to offer us lower prices because they know that students won’t fly unless the price is right.”

According to Skalleberg, the holidays are traditionally the busiest time of year to travel. During Thanksgiving, an estimated 25 million travelers are predicted to take to the air and about 7 million of them will be college students.

Valerie Wunder, a U.S. Airways spokeswoman, said students should leave their schedules open in order to find the cheapest airline prices.

“As a student you should be flexible in your travel plans, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons,” Wunder said.

Lydia Smith, a 23-year-old business administration student from Topeka, Kan., said it is not always possible for students to purchase tickets in advance.

“A lot of times as students we don’t know our exam schedules, which makes us have to purchase our tickets later,” Smith said. “When we finally buy them when it’s closer to the holiday, they end up costing too much.”

Wunder may have a remedy for that problem.

“It is best to travel during off-peak times and you may consider flying out of larger airports where there may be more flying options,” Wunder said.

For students flying out of Tallahassee, Skalleberg agrees that flying out of a larger airport will make a smaller dent in wallets.

“Unfortunately, fares out of larger airports tend to be lower than those from smaller regional airports, but that doesn’t mean you are out of luck,” Skalleberg said. “[You should] Research fares departing from the closest international airport…Jacksonville is a two-and-a-half hour car trip, but it may keep a lot of money in your pocket to book flights from there.”