SEATTLE — April 2, 2009 — Today the Fareologists at Live Search Farecast (http://farecast.live.com) issued the 2009 Summer Travel Forecast, which shows a dramatic shift in favor of the traveler. Airfare for summer travel to domestic destinations is down more than 9 percent on average from 2008, while overall summer fares to destinations in Europe are down more than 19 percent. U.S. hotels, which, unlike airlines, cannot cut capacity to manage low demand, have dropped rates 14 percent on average since last year. Budget-conscious travelers can save even more by flying during extended shoulder seasons — May through mid-June and mid-August through September — choosing the right destinations, and knowing when to buy their airfare.
“During this global recession, many travelers aren’t necessarily considering where they’re traveling, but if they can afford to travel at all this summer,” said Joel Grus, Fareologist from Live Search Farecast. “Recently, airlines anticipated weak demand and reacted by cutting capacity. However, they underestimated the decrease in consumer travel, and I expect the airlines will re-correct with additional capacity cuts, meaning these low fares may not last long. For those who have room in their budgets for a vacation this summer, it could be one of the best years to travel in a long time.”
The cost to travel to Europe may be the most striking change since last summer, during which airfares set record highs amid skyrocketing oil prices. On average, fares for summer travel to Europe are down 19 percent since last year, or $240 per ticket. Travel to Europe in May is particularly affordable at 24 percent on average below last year’s fares.
“In summer 2008 airfare to Europe averaged $1,300, but this summer the outlook leans in favor of the traveler with prices averaging just over $1,000 per ticket,” Grus said. “Keep in mind those are just averages, and savvy travelers can find deals for far less. Recently I observed fares to Paris for $320, London for $457, and Rome for $664.”
For summer travel, Live Search Farecast’s top destinations include these:
London. Low demand and a weakening British pound make London — once extremely expensive — an affordable destination. Fares to London are widely available for less than $500 per ticket.
Las Vegas. Due to a steep drop in tourism, travelers can play in Las Vegas for a fraction of the cost. Premium hotels in Las Vegas have dropped 30 percent on average since last summer, and staggering deals are available in many hotels on and off The Strip.
Miami. Hit the beach in sunny Miami, where airfare is down 28 percent and hotels are down 17 percent on average.
San Diego. For a West Coast vacation, San Diego is affordable as Live Search Farecast has seen a 10 percent drop on average in airfare and hotel rates coming down an average of 34 percent below 2008 rates.
Rome. Italy is desperately luring travelers to its tourism-supported towns. Airfare for summer travel to Rome is down an average of $327 per ticket from this time last year.
Grus also offers the following tips for summer travelers looking to save:
Travel in extended “shoulder seasons.” This year the summer shoulder seasons of May and September are extending into June and August, and deals can still be found for travel during the first two weeks of June and the last two weeks of August. If school schedules or other conflicts get in the way of shoulder season trips, travelers are in luck and can still find inexpensive airfare in June and August.
Choose the right destination from your coast. Destination plays a big role in airfare pricing, but choosing the right destination from the city of origin will yield even bigger savings. For the New York-based traveler seeking airfare to London in mid-June, there are deals as low as $580 per ticket, while airfare to Paris in June can be as low as $600 per ticket. From Boston, deals to Madrid can be had at $652 per ticket. Travelers in Philadelphia should try London in mid-August, when fares are as low as $659 per ticket. From the West Coast, travelers in Seattle can get to London in mid-May for as low as $501 per ticket. Chicago-based travelers should consider traveling to Amsterdam in July, when fares are as low as $606 per ticket.
Save more by avoiding heavy travel times. In addition, families and those who can be flexible and avoid travel during peak travel times could save more than $20 per ticket. Travelers who steer clear of flying over popular travel weekends such as Memorial Day weekend in May or Independence Day weekend in July could save more than $100 on airfare for a family of four.
Deep Hotel Discounts in a Destination Near You
The decreases in airfare are surpassed by rate drops in many hotels that look to stay low for some time to come. According to Farecast’s Hotel Rate Key, premium hotels in San Diego, Tampa, Fla., New York City, Denver, Chicago and San Francisco have deeply discounted hotel rates in May and June. Rates in these cities are on average 27 percent below their 2008 pricing for these months.
“If you can’t afford to fly this summer, you still have options for getting away and enjoying some leisure time,” Grus said. “Last year we heard a lot about the ‘staycation,’ and with gas prices looking to stay stable this summer, it may be the perfect time to drive to one of these cities near you. If it’s nearby, head to Chicago, where hotel rates are down 20 percent since last year, for the opening of the Modern Wing at the Art Institute or the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry.”
Other destinations offering tremendous premium hotel deals include Tampa, where hotel rates are down an average of 32 percent at $143 per night on average, New York City, where hotel rates are down 27 percent at $286 on average, and Denver, where hotel rates are down 21 percent at $172 per night on average.
Live Search Farecast Empowers Consumers With Travel Science, Not Marketing
Live Search Farecast helps online travel shoppers make smart travel-purchase decisions with an airfare prediction for their specific trip. The airfare prediction shows whether the lowest fares appear to be rising or dropping and provides a recommendation to buy now or wait. In April 2007, Navigant Consulting Inc. tested more than 44,000 airfare predictions and confirmed their accuracy to 74.5 percent.
Live Search Farecast’s Hotel Rate Key helps consumers know at a glance if the offered rate for a hotel is a deal based on historical rates. Hotel Rate Keys are available for more than 5,000 hotels in 30 major cities across the country, for reservations up to 90 days in the future.
About Live Search Farecast
Live Search Farecast, acquired by Microsoft in 2008, is the smart travel search site that helps consumers buy with confidence. In addition to providing flight and hotel search, Live Search Farecast helps consumers know when to buy with airfare predictions and know where to stay with Hotel Rate Keys. The technology was recognized as the 2008 Webby Award Travel winner, named Condé Nast Traveler’s “Best Site for Knowing When to Book” in 2008, named one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 25 Travel Websites in 2007, awarded Budget Travel’s 2007 Extra Mile Award, named one of PC World’s 20 Most Innovative Products for 2006, listed in “Best of What’s New 2006” by Popular Science, named one of TIME Magazine’s “50 Coolest Websites” in 2006, and named one of the “Best Trip Planning Tools” by BusinessWeek readers in 2006. Buy travel smarter at http://farecast.live.com or follow Live Search Farecast on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fareologist.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.