The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 58
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 58

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Arlington Heights, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
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Page 58
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2 World currency Here's what $1 will buy Argentina (peso) Australia (dollar) Britain (pound) Canada (dollar) China (yuan) Denmark (krone) European Union (euro) Hong Kong (dollar) Israel (shekel) 3.16 1.08 .50 .99 7.18 4.89 .66 7.79 3.60 Japan (yen) 1 03.61 Mexico (peso) Poland (zloty) Sweden (krona) Switzerland (franc) 10.70 2.32 6.14 1.04 Rates are for traders making transactions of$1 million or more last Wednesday. Travelers might receive less favorable rates. LOW AIRFARES 1 . Round trip from O'Hare or Midway SEATTLE: $218 AS ' SAN FRANCISCO; $228 NW,M,UA,US DENVER: . $124 CO.UA.NW, USVEGA& DLlAM9 * $1«UA,M,B6,US,F9,CO,DL, NW ,• MINNEAPOLIS:* $98AA,UA,DL, NW KANSASCITY:* CHKAM — DETROIT: $100 I,NW, LOS ANGELES:* $208 F9 r- PHOENIX: $168 • AA SAN DIEGO: $208 F9 HONOLULU: $638.40 UA NW ' CO DALLAS: • , $162 DL WASHINGTON, D.C.: + i $168 UA,CO,US,AA, ot,a Airline codes FL AirTran AS Alaska Air AA American TZ ATA HP America West CO Continental DL Delta F9 Frontier B6 Jet Blue NWNorthwest WNSouthwest NK Spirit UA United US US Airways AA,UA ATLANTA:* $172 DL.AA, NW,UA,CO, US BOSTON: $188 B6,DL,UA NEW YORK: $176 NW,CO,DL,AA,UA, PHILADELPHIA: •f $198 CO, UA, US, DL,AA,FL,NW HOUSTON; N1 ^ 0U 5 L ^ : F9,UA,DL,AA' CO ' NW .ORLANDO: $178 X US,AA,NW,OL,UA MIAMI: $150 DAILY HERALD These round-trip airfares, researched on Wednesday lor departure March 19 or after, are for informational purposes only. Most require a 14- to 21-day advance purchase and a Saturday-night stay. Airlines may change fares without notice. Fares may not apply to all seats and may be subject to advance booking, availability, payment restrictions and penalties for cancellations or changes. Extremely limited fares (including some weekend fares) may not be included. Taxes are not included; other fees may apply. Source: (800) 359-4537, www.fly4less.com Airline mergers likely to ground future fare wars BY GEORGE HOBICA AND KIM LIANG TAN Daily Hemld Correspondents It looks like some of the major airlines are seriously considering mergers, and this begs the question: Will it bring higher fares? Here's our take in Q&A form: Q. Will mergers cause a huge spike in airfares? A. We're not so sure this will ^___. happen. First, let's admit that, adjusted for inflation, airfares are incredibly cheap. TWenty years ago, you would pay more to fly in inflation- adjusted dollars than you do now. According to die Air Transport Association of America (www.airlines.org, admittedly an industry trade group), the inflation-adjusted cost of domestic air travel has dropped by 50 percent since deregulation, from 8 cents per mile to 4 cents per mile today, in 1978 dollars. When American Airlines (www.aa.com) bought TWA, fares increased for a while on certain routes, but then we saw the creation and expansion of discount carriers, such as AirTran (wvyw.airtran.com), JetBlue (www.jetblue.com), Skybus (www.skybus.com), ATA (www.ata.com), Frontier Airlines (www.frontierairlines. com), Southwest Airlines (wvvw.southwest.com), Spirit Airlines (www.spiritak.com) and Virgin America (www. virginamerica.com). The same thing likely will happen again. If there's a Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com) merger with Northwest Airlines (www. nwa.com), Atlanta fares will be kept low as long as AirTran keeps flying. Fares into and out of Minneapolis, already high because that airport is a Northwest "fortress hub" with little low-cost carrier competition, mainly from AirTran, probably won't go much higher. Detroit is also a Northwest hub, but perhaps the combined airline will close hubs (for example, it might not want to keep both Cincinnati and Detroit) and that might open the way for a discount airline, such as Southwest, to take over gates and landing slots in the closed hub(s). Although it's a small carrier, Sun Country (www. suncountry.com) keeps Northwest on its toes in Minneapolis. Perhaps with the merger, Delta will have to give up its (admittedly few) gates and landing slots in Minneapolis and hand them over to a discount carrier. What we won't see anymore are those crazy retaliatory, tit- for-tat unadvertised hub airport fare wars. That's when Delta would lower fares out of Northwest's hubs to ridiculously low levels and then Northwest would return the favor out of Delta's hubs a few hours later. This sort of irrational behavior might be history, so we're not going to see as many unadvertised fare wars. Q. What about other costs associated with flying, such as extrafees? A. Airline fees might indeed increase. For example, United Airlines (www.united.com) is one of the few airlines that refunds, without charging a fee, when you buy a fare and it goes down in price before you fly (in the form of a voucher good for future travel within a year). Continental Airlines (www.continental.com), however, charges a $100 fee in such a scenario. We wouldn't be surprised, should the two airlines merge, if the Continental fee .prevails. Conversely, Continental would probably adopt United's $25 second-bag fee. Airline fees, for everything from bringing a pet into the cabin to rebanking frequent- flier miles, just keep on going up and up, and often add a surprising amount to the cost of flying. It will also be easier to push through fuel surcharges as oil prices continue to increase. Q. What about international fares? A. Lucidly, there isn't much overlap between Delta's and Northwest's international routes. Delta flies mostly to Europe, and Northwest is big on trans-Pacific routes. Plus, the new "open skies" agreements, which allow foreign airlines more leeway to fly between the U.S. and foreign airports, might keep fares from spiking too terribly, and might also keep service levels from plunging. Q. Will other airlines merge if Northwest and Delta combine? A. Most likely. We might see Continental merge with United, and perhaps US Airways (www.usairways.com) would buy a smaller carrier, such as AirTran or Frontier. American, which bought Midway and TWA at the end of the last century, might also buy another small carrier, but antitrust concerns would probably preclude it from swallowing up a larger player. Q. What will happen to my frequent-flier miles? A. If you have 10,000 miles on Northwest and 15,000 on Delta, you'll have 25,000 combined on Delta (assuming that the new airline is named Delta, which is most likely). No miles will be lost. However, and it's a big however, we wouldn't be surprised if the airlines, post-merger, increase the number of miles required for free trips. After all, if there are just three or four major carriers, who are you going to complain to? San Francisco hotel extends package The newly renovated Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf just extended validity dates for the hotel's popular Spring Fever package. Priced with value in mind, the package includes a newly renovated guest room for two (add-on rates available for families) and a packet of California poppy seeds so guests can plant their own memories of their whimsical getaway once they return home. Rates start at $169 per night and are valid through May 31. Nearby attractions include Alcatraz, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. For reservations and information, visit www.fishermans wharf.hyatt.com or call (800) 233-1234. • Reach George Hobica at hobi- ca@gmail.com, Kim Liang Tan atKimLiangTan@aol.com or visit www.airfarewatchdog. com. WISCONSIN 80(1 432 H747 II I TO: I INN . Everything You Could Want In Your Door County Vacation! March Special Stay 2 NTS for $150 Spacious Suites include: Whirlpool 'l\il> • hill Kitchen • Fireplace Free High Speed Internet ,; if (imit Kales it Open Year Koinitl s P.O. Box 880 • Fish Creek, Wl 54212 (888) 868-3556 • www.hilltopinndc.com

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