Make us your home page

Roadlife: Most travel prices expected to rise in 2010

This was the year for travel bargains, if you could afford to hit the road.

Three-star hotel rooms for less than a nice dinner for two. Cruise fares as low as $25 a night for a Bahamas trip from Florida. Lots of cheap airline tickets if you steered clear of peak travel times.

For 2010, travel experts predict prices will rise modestly as the economy slowly mends. Airlines and rental car companies that cut inventory to match declining demand will be best positioned to push through price increases.

Here's a rundown on what consumers face for the coming year.

Airlines: Airline executives say ticket sales have been up from 2008 for the last half of this year. The three biggest carriers — Delta, American and United — even report an uptick in demand for business and premium tickets.

Major airlines tacked on surcharges for flying in the busy holiday season. With most flying fewer and smaller planes, carriers could raise fares if demand keeps improving. Not everyone in the industry agrees with that outlook.

Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly told analysts this month he doesn't see business travel improving or much economic growth in 2010. Even if ticket sales improve, "better than 2009 is not saying a whole lot," wrote John Heimlich, chief economist for the industry's trade group.

Hotels: Lodging suffered through a historically bad year as business travel tanked. Average room rates tumbled nearly 9 percent nationally from 2008. Occupancy fell to 55.2 percent from a peak of 63.3 percent in 2006.

The bleeding will continue into 2010 but at a slower pace. Average room rates will drop 1.8 percent, with occupancy edging up to 55.8 percent, according to a Price­WaterhouseCoopers forecast. So, consumers should continue to find plenty of cheap hotel rooms.

Car Rentals: Major companies slashed their fleets by buying fewer new vehicles and selling into the used-car market. As a result, published rates jumped an average of 15 percent to 18 percent this year from 2008.

Expect rates to keep rising in the single-digit range in 2010, said Neil Abrams of Abrams Consulting Group in Purchase, N.Y. Watch out for spot shortages of vehicles during busy periods, such as Florida from January through April.

Avis is taking a serious look at the industry's first "no show" fee for reserving a vehicle you don't use, Abrams said. Enterprise rejected the idea, he said, but others could follow if someone else takes the leap first.

Cruises: Facing the recession and a parade of new ships arriving, cruise lines offered up great deals to fill cabins in 2009. Prices for Alaska and Mexico were the lowest in recent memory, according to the cruise review Web site Cruise Critic. Luxury lines offered free airfare and two-for-one deals.

Cruise Critic says cruise lines are feeling better about bookings for 2010. Record-low, peak-season fares will likely disappear. But you should still be able to scoop up cruise deals for last-minute bookings and trips in the "shoulder seasons" between spring and summer and during fall.

Steve Huettel can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3384.

Roadlife: Most travel prices expected to rise in 2010 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code


    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  2. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]
  3. Clearwater attorney accused of condo foreclosure trickery fights back

    Real Estate

    The Clearwater lawyer accused of tricking a bidder into paying $458,100 for a gulf-front condo now plans to contest a judge's order tossing out the sale.

    John Houde, left, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground, in August during a hearing Sixth Judicial Circuit court Judge Jack St. Arnold at the Pinellas County Courthouse. The judge agreed with Houde's allegation that he was duped by Skelton in thinking he bought a Redington Beach condo for $458,100 out of a foreclosure auction. Now Skelton is fighting back. 
  4. How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA


    Tony DiMare, a third-generation Florida tomato grower, has spent two decades contending with cheap Mexican imports, watching his neighbors abandon crops in their fields and sell off their farms when they couldn't match the price of incoming produce.

    Workers fill a trailer with tomatoes as they harvest them in the fields of DiMare Farms in Florida City. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images(2013)]
  5. Pinellas deputies go door-to-door at dawn to arrest unlicensed contractors


    Pinellas deputies began pounding on doors at 5 a.m. Tuesday, part of a widespread roundup of contractors accused of working without licences and workers compensation.

    Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]