Book Summer Flights Now, Before Jet Fuel Costs Climb and Surcharges Appear

With fuel prices around the world skyrocketing, it’s only a matter of time before the cost of airfare follows suit, a Frommer’s report this week positioned. “The widespread arrival of fuel charges for travel in 2022 seems imminent,” it predicted.

The outlet advised consumers to buy their airline tickets for their summer trips as soon as possible or risk facing inflated fare prices as the season approaches. Some of this assumption was based on news that the Thai Airlines Association, which represents seven Southeast Asian airlines, asked government regulators for authorization to add fuel surcharges to the cost of domestic flights within Thailand. Private aviation company Wheels Up also announced that it will begin adding fuel surcharges on April 9, due to the rising cost of fuel.

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Frommer’s argued that this is bound to be the start of an industry-wide trend, as the gas prices continue hitting record highs on a near-daily basis due to the Russian war on Ukraine’s disruption of global crude oil supplies. And, with the future so uncertain, would-be travelers would be wise to book air travel now before costs soar even higher.

“People have got to realize that the longer they leave it, the more likely they are to have a fuel surcharge slapped on their airfare,” aviation data analyst John Grant told BBC World News on March 11.

Just as global tourism seemed on the path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, its rebound has been derailed by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and ensuing warfare. Not only does it affect international travelers’ willingness to visit neighboring Europe and areas of the Middle East, but the situation also impacts places like Southeast Asia, where Russian tourists typically vacation.

Russian tourists and the revenue they typically generate will be conspicuously absent from favorite destinations like Phuket and Bali, due to external sanctions and airspace restrictions being imposed on Russia by the rest of the world. While the resulting drop in air travel demand might lower base airfares, the spike in oil prices will still ultimately drive costs up, Frommer’s postulated.

If airlines begin levying fuel surcharges on customers to offset the expense, flyers may not even realize the fee has been added because it’s bundled in with all the other taxes and surcharges typically tacked on to their ticket purchase. On international flight bookings, fuel surcharges can constitute several hundred dollars’ worth of the total ticket price. And, historically, once fuel surcharges are instituted, they’ve tended to remain in place even after fuel prices decreased.

The record-setting cost of gas may also affect other aspects of travelers’ trips, including tours, cruises and various modes of ground transportation. Various tour operators, including Collette, Globus, Kensington Tours, Tauck and Trafalgar told Travel Weekly that they do not plan on adding fuel surcharges, and that pricing for their 2022 and 2023 prices are already locked in.

Kensington Tours’ President Helen Giontsis remarked, “We expect that we are able to maintain these prices despite the increase in fuel. We would not consider adding a fuel surcharge as a pricing tactic.” She added, “In the event that gas prices remain very high for a sustained period, this will affect our approach to pricing on a country-by-country basis in the long term.”

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