Increased airfare keeps some students on campus for holidays

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An increase in the cost of airfare will prevent some University of Miami students from going home for Thanksgiving.

Airfares for Thanksgiving travel are currently up 27 percent from last year, according to Live Search Farecast, a travel research Web site.

Farecast says that the average fare cost for the Thanksgiving holiday, if leaving on Wednesday and returning Sunday, is $490 – up $66 since last year.

“I went home to Michigan last Thanksgiving, but flights this year are just too expensive,” sophomore Judy Hartshorn said.

Airlines recommend shifting travel dates from popular days. One option is leaving on Thanksgiving Day and returning on a weekday, but this is not possible for many college students who must plan around class schedules.

“If I were to leave on the Monday before Thanksgiving, I would have been able to go home,” Hartshorn said. “Flights were over $400 for the rest of the week though, and I didn’t want to miss too many classes.”

Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, said that there will be a dinner on Wed., Nov. 26, for international students in the UC Ballrooms. The event is geared toward international students, but anyone is welcome to attend.

Whitely said that some residential colleges will offer events students can sign up to attend over the break.

“We always have various Thanksgiving dinners at the residential colleges,” Whitely said.

Sophomore Nikki Pamani said that spending this Thanksgiving at home is worth the cost of airfare.

“Flights back to New Jersey were expensive, but I really want to see my family,” Pamani said. “I knew I was definitely going home so I bought my ticket early.”

Fliers seeking to redeem their frequent flyer miles may be charged fuel service charges or processing fees. US Airways charges a processing fee of up to $50 for its frequent fliers.

On Sept. 15, Northwest Airlines’ WorldPerks frequent flier program began charging a $25 fuel surcharge fee within North America, $50 for trans-Atlantic flights, $100 for trans-Pacific, $75 for destinations in Asia and $50 for other destinations.

Delta Airlines’ SkyMiles frequent flier program began charging similar fees on Aug. 15, with surcharges of $25 within the U.S. and Canada and $50 for destinations outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Fees for checking baggage, snacks and other options that used to be free may drive travel costs even higher.

Continental Airlines recently announced that it would begin charging a $15 fee for a customer’s first checked bag when traveling on or after Oct. 7.

American Airlines, Continental, United and US Airways are among airlines currently charging bag fees. Southwest, JetBlue and Delta are among airlines that do not currently charge to check one bag.

“First you pay the high fare, then you pay all the extra fees and on top of all that, you still might be charged just to check a bag,” Hartshorn said.

UM’s Holiday Schedule

Thanksgiving this year falls on Thurs., Nov. 27. Thanksgiving recess for UM students is from Thurs., Nov. 27 to Sun., Nov. 30.

The final day of exams for the fall semester is Wed. Dec. 17. On-campus housing will open for the spring semester on Tues., Jan. 13. Classes will resume on Tues., Jan. 20.

Holiday Travel Tips For Students

  • Anyone between the ages of 18 and 22 feeling particularly patient (or impulsive) should consider the option of AirTranU, a program through AirTran airlines that allows one to fly standby for $69 per segment (or $99 for very long segments). A segment is defined as one take-off and one landing. Blackout dates for this Thanksgiving are Nov. 26, 29, 30, and Dec.1. For more information and destinations, visit http://AirTranU.com.
  • Try alternative airports. Flights out of Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest, Spirit and JetBlue are often cheaper than flights out of Miami International Airport on major carriers.
  • As airlines are currently scaling back on flight capacities, plan ahead for changes in schedule. What was once a non-stop flight could change before a scheduled travel.
  • If your class schedule is flexible, try leaving on less popular travel days. For Thanksgiving, this means leaving Thanksgiving Day and returning to Miami on the following Monday or Tuesday morning rather than Sunday night.
  • If you are planning on checking luggage, check to see which airlines have the lowest fees for checking bags. Try http://www.kayak.com/airline-fees
  • Check student travel sites for any last minute deals or specials. STA travel (http://www.statravel.com/) recently offered a special for Miami students by offering a $15 discount to cover the cost of the first checked bag fee.

Staying at the U for the holidays?

  • Go to the beach. Miami’s untraditional fall weather has its perks.
  • Volunteer at a food bank over the break, or hold a food drive of your own for a non-profit food bank, such as Daily Bread Food Bank (http://www.dailybread.org).
  • For students on campus, keep in mind that there are kitchens in Mahoney Residential College, dinners in some residential colleges and many restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day.
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