Summer travel season typically brings the threat of higher airfares, and this summer is no different—but the good news for Washington travelers is that the area’s two principal airports are adding some new routes, especially nonstops out of Reagan National to places as varied as Austin, San Francisco, San Juan, and Portland, Oregon. Dulles has added a daily nonstop to Honolulu, and two new carriers will provide daily service to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, answering our request, sent all kinds of updated information about new service from DCA and IAD. Here’s how it breaks down:
Starting this summer from Reagan National: Southwest nonstop to Austin (July 8); Virgin America to San Francisco (August 14); JetBlue to San Juan (August 23); and Alaska Airlines to Portland, Oregon (August 28). Also new to Reagan this summer: American Airlines nonstop to Los Angeles International Airport, which began this month, and US Airways flights to San Diego, Minneapolis, Montreal, Toronto, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Augusta, Georgia, which all begin July 11. There’s new JetBlue service out of DCA, too, which started this month. The airline added a new flight to Tampa and additional flights to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando.
The news from Dulles includes Lufthansa adding a bigger jumbo jet for its route to Frankfurt, a daily flight of the new 747-8 series, which seats 362 passengers. According to MWAA it is the first aircraft of this type to enter commercial service. KLM is adding three flights per week to Amsterdam (July to September); Aeromexico started new daily service to Mexico City; and United now has daily flights to Doha, Qatar, and Dublin. Emirates is a new carrier to Dulles, and will offer daily service to Dubai. Also new is Etihad Airways, with daily service to Abu Dhabi.
We contacted a local travel agency, McCabe World Travel, to get a reality check about fares. Yes, they are soaring, and yes, there are sensible ways to go about beating the higher fares. Cristina Gifuni, McCabe’s international travel adviser, said fares “change by the second. We find they are really high lately. Go for advance ticketing, and be flexible with the time of travel.”
Gifuni also made an argument familiar to seasoned Washington travelers: fly from BWI. “You do see some cheaper fares from Baltimore,” she said. Factoring in the costs of getting to and from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport “may not be cost effective for one person traveling alone, but if it’s a family they can find big savings,” says Gifuni, who adds that many hotels in the Baltimore area offer “park and fly” arrangements, which spare the traveler any airport parking fees. Interestingly, of Southwest Airlines—long reputed to be one of the best deals out of Baltimore—Gifuni says, “I don’t find them to be that much cheaper anymore. They don’t charge for baggage, but their airfares nowadays are comparable to the other carriers.”
As for the new flights out of Dulles and Reagan, Gifuni says new flights are typically good for the consumer beyond simply the convenience. “When there’s a new carrier in the market with a reasonable price it will force the other carriers’ [prices] to come down. It’s supply and demand.”
We leave you with this: There’s always a road trip. The national average for a gallon of gasoline is dropping, in some areas by as much as 50 cents from two months ago.