Forget Paris. We’ll always have Philadelphia.
With sky-high airline prices to Europe, Steve Danishek, president of TMA Travel in Seattle, says many of his customers are instead inquiring about California, Arizona, Las Vegas and Hawaii for summer getaways.
Summer vacationers planning a trip across the pond are seeing sky-high prices in many European cities, with airfares 11% higher, on average, than 2011, according to searches on online travel agency Kayak.com
Tickets from the U.S. to Paris this summer priced in January were 22% higher than the same time the year before, according to Kayak, which searches airlines and online travel agencies for the best prices. London was up 14%, and travel experts say prices will go much higher as we get closer to the Summer Olympics, which run July 27 to Aug. 12. Some trans-Atlantic round-trips are currently $3,000 or more.
It’s the same story with hotels. The average price found in Kayak searches for London between Memorial Day and Labor Day was $241, up 24% from the same period last year. Munich and Stockholm are both up more than 20% compared with last year.
Travel agencies say consumers have started to balk at sky-high airfares and increasingly opt for cheaper destinations. That may spur some pullback in air prices. If so, perhaps now is the best time to buy if you do want to go to Europe this summer. While it is hard to find a trans-Atlantic ticket for less than $1,000 round-trip-something possible before oil spiked—plentiful flights can be had under $1,500.
Still, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic prices for New York-London summer trips run up to $1,800 for some dates in June and July. Delta’s prices for an Atlanta-Paris round-trip run as high as $3,339 in coach in June, though most itineraries are still around $1,500 to $1,700.
And so with prices higher this year, that may mean trading down. Mexican beach destinations are cheaper than Florida, for example, and budget-minded travelers head where the deals are.
Ticket prices between Los Angeles and Philadelphia for this summer are down about 20% compared with summer bookings at this time last year, thanks in part to new flights from Virgin America. Popularity of summer travel on that route, based on bookings, is up about 80%, Travelocity said.
Chicago to Boston has seen fares drop 29% on average, and bookings are up 33% for summer, Travelocity said.
Among routes where sales have grown as ticket prices have declined for summer: New York to San Francisco; Orlando to Los Angeles; and New York to Orlando; as well as trips to the Caribbean and Cancun.
Expedia says it has seen hotel-room sales outpace airline tickets, suggesting that more travelers are opting to stay closer to home and drive to destinations this summer. Among destinations seeing more interest, Expedia said, are Ocean City, Md., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
A version of this article appeared April 12, 2012, on page D1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Other European Crisis.