The Seattle Times travel section is so bad, it’s embarrassing. We’ve already wondered aloud how Carol Pucci still has a job, but even in a Pucci-free Sunday travel section, the simplistic writing keeps on coming. Take this Q&A with Kristin Jackson:
Will Europe fares go down?
Q: My wife and I are taking a 21-day accompanied tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales this August. Last year, we got an $800 round-trip fare to Rome. Flights to London this year range from $1,160 for a one-stop flight to $1,600 for nonstop. After our Rome experience, we are not anxious to get on another flight for 15 hours to get to Europe.
Can we expect airfares to drop significantly in August, the peak of summer?
— J & K, Poulsbo
A: Unfortunately, flights to Europe are much more expensive this year. Airlines have cut capacity by reducing the number of flights and summertime demand has picked up as the economy recovers. That combination means fewer empty seats — and higher fares.
It’s unlikely that Europe prices will decline significantly, especially in the August high season, but airfares are volatile. So keep checking online. You can sign up for low-fare alerts at travel Web sites such as Expedia.com or Airfare watchdog.com or get predictions on airfares through Farecast.com. Nonstop is the most hassle-free way to go — and may be worth the extra money unless you find a great deal in a connecting flight.
Once you’ve seen what the fares are doing over a week or two, you’ll have a better sense of prices — and then can nab what seems best to you.
Kristin Jackson, Seattle Times travel staff
“So keep checking online.” That’s your fancy-pants travel-staff advice?
News flash, Kristin: They know the exact ticket prices for a nonstop and indirect flight. Your advice is basically: Keep doing what you’re doing?
Let’s discuss the worst part–that in a brief piece, you felt the need to explain that nonstop is “the most hassle-free way to go” and “may be worth the extra money.” They already summarized that in their question.
Seriously, Seattle Times travel writers–they pay for you for this? For listing Expedia, telling people to check online, and explaining that non-stops are both more expensive and more convenient?
So what might have been useful advice? See, in the social media age, people want specifics that address their actual questions, not vague generalities.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the fact that this couple is headed to the U.K. It might be worth mentioning the British Airways travel strike that’s a looming question mark right now, and explain that fares could be affected until the matter is resolved. Maybe, if I were you–a journalist for a major metropolitan paper–I would do some actual reporting, calling someone from the U.K. to see how strikes have affected ticket prices historically.
In fact, doing a quick search on Expedia.com, I noticed that no British Airways flights were listed right now. I would probably place a call to British Airways to find out more about that situation to see if it amounts to anything, and report back to our friends in Poulsbo.
Even though Bing Travel (which bought Farecast) doesn’t have fare prediction info for the circumstances the letter-writers provided, I’d probably still mention that they might save money on a U.K. trip by flying out of one airport and into another.
If, for example, they fly into London and out of Glasgow (or even Dublin), it might save them a couple hundred bucks in train fare, helping their overall transportation budget be in better shape. I’d point them to skyscanner.com to look up all this kind of info of which airlines fly in and out of what cities.