USA Today's Dan Reed reports that fuel surcharges on flights to Europe are on the rise, and have already increased more than $100 on average compared to last summer. Reed notes that these surcharges are on top of airfares that, in some cases, are double what travelers paid last summer.
"A passenger can pay a $182 fuel surcharge to go from Dallas/Fort Worth to Dublin and back," Reed writes, "compared with just $14 last year before oil prices climbed." He also notes a $320 surcharge between Los Angeles and Paris, compared to $224 last year.
Of course, there is also the matter of $10 to $30 "peak travel" surcharges implemented by several carriers for most of the summer.
Reed explains that fuel prices have been on the rise, after hitting relatively low levels last spring and summer. "Airlines began imposing fuel charges on international routes two years ago when oil prices surged. They tapered off as oil prices sank at the end of 2008 amid the global financial collapse. But prices hit an 18-month high of $87.15 a barrel three weeks ago." Prices have come down a bit since, but the overall trend still stands.
But fuel prices are only part of the equation. Airlines cut capacity when demand waned, and, absent that glut of empty seats, are now charging higher fares. Add that to the mix of rising fuel costs and continued economic uncertainty, and you have a recipe for exactly what we're seeing: expensive flights to Europe.
So, if you're on the fence about that trip to Rome, it's probably time to make a decision. One option is to wait until the fall, when fares and possibly hotel rates should come down a bit. But if you have your heart set on a summer trip and haven't booked yet, the situation appears to be getting desperate.