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Air Travel

As demand plunges, fares drop

Jun 21, 2009

More business travelers are moving to the back of the plane, downgrading from business- and first-class seats to coach and adding to airline financial woes.

But fliers who still can sit in the front of the cabin are finding some of the best deals in recent memory: Premium fares are down more than 20% as airlines discount tickets to fill seats, according to the airline trade group International Air Transport Assn.

By comparison, economy fares are down about 15% on average, the trade group said.

The slumping demand for premium tickets -- down 22% in April after a 19.2% drop in the first quarter -- is hurting airline profitability, and the trade group said the downturn may not have hit bottom yet.

With declining demand and fare discounts, revenue from premium seats fell 44% in April.

"Drivers of air travel such as jobs and industrial production were still declining in April, suggesting a solid floor has yet to be found," trade group spokesman Steve Lott said.

Tip of the week for harried fliers

Getting around the airport can be tiring, time-consuming and stressful, particularly if you've got 20 minutes to make a connecting flight.

But Bob Covington, a mid-Wilshire resident who travels frequently as an event technology manager for photo agency Getty Images, has a solution: He glides from gate to gate on a fold-up kick scooter that he carries wherever he travels.

"Hey, I just made a flight connection in Houston on the way to Detroit because of my scooter," Covington text-messaged from his cellphone last week. He had arrived at Houston's gate E-21 at 6:40 p.m. and managed to make it to gate C-19 at the other end of the airport for a 7 p.m. flight.

Some airports prohibit riding skateboards and roller blades but few have policies against kick scooters. Los Angeles International Airport, for instance, has a ban only on motorized scooters. The folding scooters are considered carry-on baggage because they can fold to fit in the plane's overhead bin.

He doesn't recommend it for everybody, "but I've never been stopped or anything," Covington said. He paused to add, "That's probably because I always make sure to walk it in congested areas and dismount if an officer is in view."


Singapore Airlines' website has been regularly jammed since it began offering fares as low as $599 for round-trip tickets (including taxes and fees) from LAX to Southeast Asia -- the lowest price in at least a decade. . . . JetBlue Airways has started service at LAX and now has twice-daily flights to New York and Boston.

As demand plunges, fares drop
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