Rising airline prices make student travel difficult

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, students are seeing a rise in airfare costs.


Passengers board a JetBlue flight to Chicago. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES

Katie Nelson, Writer

Passengers board a JetBlue flight to Chicago. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES

With a quarter of Biola students hailing from out of state, a large portion of the student body planning to fly home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break is experiencing difficulty finding reasonable flight prices as airfare continues to rise.

After domestic airfare increased 4.5 percent over the summer to balance out the rise in fuel prices, consumer prices have not fallen back to their previous rates, according to a recent article by The Seattle Times.

A backlash from the Arab Spring

“Jet fuel is derived from oil, and oil prices fluctuate according to the global forces of supply and demand,” said economics professor Steve Rundle in an email. “About a year ago the Arab Spring created lots of uncertainty in the oil markets which drove prices up.”

Sophomore intercultural studies major Emily Tomek said her parents managed to cough up enough airfare to fly her home to Omaha, Neb. for Thanksgiving this year, but admits it was a stretch.

“This year … [my parents] decided last minute and it was way more expensive,” she said. “I almost didn’t go home [because] this year it was like, ‘Wow, this is so expensive.’”

Tomek said she bought her ticket from Frontier Airlines a little more than a month ago at an estimated $850 round trip.

Airfare changes reflect fuel prices

According to an Expedia search conducted Nov. 4, a nonstop, round-trip flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Omaha International Airport beginning on Nov. 20, the first day of Thanksgiving break, would cost $688 at the lowest and $1,428 at the highest.

The price of a ticket is most influenced by the amount of money needed to fuel, repair and purchase a plane, and less by the funds needed to pay workers and make a company profit, according to dean of Crowell School of Business Larry Strand. Therefore, he said, airfare changes correlate with changes in fuel prices.

“One of the critical pieces of setting prices for an airline has a lot to do with the capital investment in planes,” he said.

Season peaks also a factor

Strand also mentioned that undulating levels of passengers buying tickets throughout the year makes it difficult to set even prices without wasting money. For example, traveling peaks right before and after major holidays and drops off again soon afterward.

“When you have a demand that is seasonal, people want to fly at certain times and at other times you have half-empty planes,” he said. “So the demand is hard to control.”

Sophomore communications major Lauren Vogel, a native of Milwaukee, Wisc. decided not to go home this Thanksgiving because of travel costs.

Students seek alternate options to flying long distances

“If we would have found a good deal, I know my mom [and] dad would have flown me home in a heartbeat,” she said. “But they definitely didn’t see anything that was in our price range.”

Instead, Vogel is choosing to drive to San Francisco to spend the holiday with her roommate’s family. Despite not being able to go home, Vogel said she did not mind staying in California.

“I was totally fine with just coming home for Christmas, and it just makes sense to me [and] makes sense to my parents,” she said. “How often in your life do you get to be adopted by someone else’s family and see how another family does Thanksgiving?”

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