Prices rise; and a new bus service to BWI

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coming & Going

Costlier flights and cruises, allied hotels, and new buses to BWI

Pricier cruises

Thanks to higher demand, at least one cruise line is jacking up its prices.

Norwegian Cruise Line plans to raise its fares by as much as 10 percent starting April 1. At the same time, the company will extend its Free Upgrades for All sale through March 31.

The Wave Season promotion provides up to a four-category upgrade on select cruises as well as e-coupons for onboard savings of as much as $400. Wave Season, which runs January through March, is typically the heaviest booking period of the year.

"We've seen exceptional demand spurred by our Wave Season promotion, particularly for the popular summer destinations," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive. The company, which has 11 ships, has surpassed its weekly booking record three times in the past eight weeks, he said.

Info: www.ncl.com.

Profits, into thin air

It's shaping up to be a bad year for the airline industry, which probably means a bad year for passengers, too.

With unrest in the Middle East and North Africa pushing the price of oil past $100 a barrel, the International Air Transport Association has downgraded its 2011 outlook for the airline industry.

The global airline trade group reduced the profits it expects the industry to make this year from $9.1 billion to $8.6 billion. That's nearly 50 percent less than last year's $16 billion profit.

Fuel costs account for about 30 percent of airlines' expenses, so the spike is already causing fare hikes and cuts in capacity. So far this year, airlines have raised fares five times, according to FareCompare.com, which tracks 500 airlines worldwide. Last year, there were four fare hikes; in 2009, there were three.

Some major airlines, including American, Continental, Delta and United, recently increased fares, primarily domestic, by $10 per round trip.

American and Delta have also cut their projections for increased capacity. Which may mean, yes, higher fares.


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