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Air fares are rising again: Here's what you should do

Air fares are rising again: Here's what you should do

Air fares are rising again: Here's what you should do
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By Ajay Awtaney  Mar 16, 2019 8:50:43 AM IST (Updated)

How does one go around expensive fares? School vacations are here upon us in a month, and many people would like to take a lot of flights then. Not just that, Holi is around the corner and there will be a slew of long weekends coming up as well after that.

I’ve been in and out of the city over the past few weeks, a lot. This time of the year usually is supposed to be the lean period for air travel, so even though a lot of these trips came last minute, I figured I won’t have to pay more than, let’s say Rs 5,000 one way for these trips.

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These were trips mostly to Delhi from Mumbai for work, and over the past year or more, I’d come to believe that a reasonable fare was Rs 5,000, while a deal was more like Rs 2,500 on this sector. However, imagine my disbelief, because I’ve paid anywhere like Rs 10,000 or more, and every time I stepped on the plane it was full.
There have been many reasons for fares to go up. Mumbai Airport is out of use between 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM three days a week till March 2019 ends. Bengaluru Airport has the Aero India airshow to deal with. Delhi had Republic Day, and then, of course, the fog. IndiGo is cancelling up to 30 flights a day and had huge cancellations last week, and Jet Airways has pruned their schedule as well.
I was at the CAPA Indian Aviation Summit last week, and the team there did an excellent analysis over the past eleven months, to show me the same data. Except, there was something more to it. It seems last-minute fares (tickets booked on day of travel or one day before) have been hardening since October 2018, and not just recently.
So how does one go around these expensive fares? School vacations are here upon us in a month, and many people would like to take a lot of flights then. Not just that, Holi is around the corner and there will be a slew of long weekends coming up as well after that.
The best idea to offer you is to plan now for holidays next month and onwards. Airlines are still continuing to offer sales for tickets at least 15 days out, like there is a Jet Airways sale on through February 25, and IndiGo and Vistara just finished one. If you are looking for tickets to head for a vacation, it may also be an idea to look outside the country, given tickets to tourist hotspots such as Thailand and UAE are going cheaper than tickets to popular domestic vacation spots.
But if last minute travel is what you still need for various reasons, perhaps it is an idea to look at your credit cards and your loyalty points. Sometimes, the reward points you earn on your cards or on your previous flights could come in handy for the last minute travels. Remember, you will not exactly get the time of day on your route, but you will definitely get there if you sift through your options and make a compromise. I say that after having to book at least three redemptions in the past weeks after noticing all the same high prices.
Ajay Awtaney is a business travel & aviation journalist based in Mumbai, and the founder of the Indian frequent-traveller website Live From A Lounge (www.livefromalounge.com).
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