In a summer travel season with mostly higher airfares, the Fort Lauderdale to New York route will be one of the few that will cost less this year than last.
Travel between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and New York often ranks among the busiest routes in the nation, and 17.2 percent of the airport’s flights are to the area. In 2011, NY-Fort Lauderdale was the No. 2 most popular travel route in the country, based on airfare bookings on travel website Orbitz.com.
Average round-trip airfares on the route are running slightly lower this summer compared to last year, according to airfare booking website CheapOair.com.
Lower airfares also could be found from West Palm Beach and Miami to New York for June travel this year, but were slightly higher in July and August from a year ago.
For June and July travel, the average round-trip airfare between Fort Lauderdale and New York is up to $14 lower than last summer, according to CheapOair data.
That’s good news for South Floridians as experts say there’ll be fewer airfare deals this summer due to strong demand, fewer airline seats and still-high fuel prices — the airlines’ biggest expense.
“This year will be about scoring a ‘better bad deal’,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison website. “Deals will be fewer and further between.”
South Floridians flying to cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles should expect to see some price increases on these routes, CheapOair Senior Executive Bill Miller said.
Another plus for Fort Lauderdale travelers — average airfares to Los Angeles were also trending lower for June through August travel, compared to last year, CheapOair data showed.
For summer overall, CheapOair is expecting a 7 percent to 10 percent jump in domestic and international airfares from a year ago.
Markets with lots of competing low-cost carriers such as Fort Lauderdale are more likely to see aggressive summer airfares, experts say.
There have been six attempts by an airline to raise fares already this year, half of which were successful, according to FareCompare.com.
“We are likely to see another domestic hike in the next few weeks, and folks should shop a bit earlier this year if they can,” Seaney said.
Still “decent” deals are appearing for certain cities and destinations this summer such as Boston, Denver, Florida panhandle beaches, Orlando, Southern California and Washington D.C., Seaney noted.
Florida’s popularity as a leisure destination often forces airlines to offer lower fares to compete for travelers’ dollars, he added.
For South Floridians, Denver could be a bargain this summer.
Consumers may see “amazingly low fares” from Fort Lauderdale to Denver, said George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com, referring to a recent $165 round-trip fare including tax.
Frontier Airlines flies this route nonstop and Spirit Airlines will start new service between the cities in May.
But with airlines still trimming seats and routes, consumers could see fares double to some destinations, Hobica added.
As such, travelers should be flexible with vacation planning if searching for summer deals.
Spirit for example often has good fares, but the best ones are generally for Tuesday/Wednesday travel which doesn’t suit everyone’s schedule, Hobica said.
Nationally, average domestic airfares have been increasing in recent years.
In the second quarter of 2011, average domestic airfares rose 8.5 percent to $370 from the prior year period’s $341, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
From July through September 2011, average domestic airfares climbed 6.2 percent to $361 from the 2010 period.