Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Is the Cost of Plane Tickets Worth it?

Jenni Mies
Is the Cost of Plane Tickets Worth it?


I’m sure everyone will be happy to hear that spring break is finally almost upon us.  It is the time of year where everyone needs a nice break, especially to a warmer climate. Airlines are competing to fly you to your awaited destination.  As many of us already know, one of the most popular places to vacation during spring break is Florida or more specifically Miami, Florida. Whether you are travelling to a warm or cold climate over break, every year it is a struggle to plan vacations as parents scurry to find reasonable airline and rental car prices.  Some people take what they think to be the less costly option and drive to their vacation destination and others chose the faster route and fly. If travelling to Miami over spring break, I think flying would be the best option. The plane ticket is definitely worth the extra money as you will get their in a less amount of time and you can save on gas mileage.
If you were to take a roadtrip to Miami, you are in the car for many hours. About 22 hours according to fueleconomy.gov. Since Nashville, Tennessee is about the halfway point between Miami and Pewaukee, that’s probably where most people would stop. The hotel for overnight would be another cost that would have to be calculated when planning a trip since you wouldn’t drive 22 hours straight. Food and gas are two other costs that have to be totaled up to find the total price of a vacation. When estimated, just the driving part of the trip would cost an estimated amount of $629.14. That number is only the actual cost of the trip.  In order to find the true cost, you also have to take into account everything else in addition to the money that is given up also known as the opportunity cost.  The forgone opportunity when you drive instead of fly is the total of four days you miss relaxing on the beach since it takes so much longer to drive.
Compared to calculating driving prices, there is a lot less that you have to calculate when planning on flying to Florida. There are really only three things. The actual airline ticket, the car rental and the shorter travel time compared to when you drive.  The airline ticket costs around $315 for a round trip based on the flight prices found on TripAdvisor.  Second, the car rental cost.  With prices found on Hertz Rental, renting a car for a week costs approximately $489.  The total actual costs involved with travelling to Miami by plane adds to a total of $792.  Eventhough travelling by air costs $162.86 more than driving. The flight only takes 3 hours which means more time in Florida soaking up the sun.

Planning a spring break trip can be a hassle however, if you check prices long enough before your trip, you can save money on flights and car rentals.  As shown in the graph above, on average, spring break travel fares are 91% higher on the weeks leading up to Easter (March 22- March 31). Take into consideration when planning your vacation that a flight departing on Tuesdays or Wednesdays can save travelers on average $170 on their tickets.  If you wait until the last minute to plan your spring getaway and still don’t have a flight booked, one way that you might be able to save money is by booking your flight on a certain day (cheapAir.com). Since airlines are oligopolies, their prices are always changing.
There are two choices that you can make, to fly or drive, it all depends on if you want to spend more money and have more time on the beach or spend less money but spend less time on the beach. When in numbers, driving looks like the smarter option. However, if you look at the opportunity side of things, flying looks like the better option to me.





Works Cited
Hertz System, Inc. Hertz Rent a Car. 2017, https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/reservation/#itinerary.
Klee, Jeff. CheapAir. 2017. https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-tips/spring-break-flight-deals-are-all-in-the-numbers/.
Trip Advisor LLC. Trip Advisor. 2017,
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0.a-a_travelers.1-Miami_Florida.html.
US News & World Report L.P.. U.S. News & World Report. "The 10 Best Spring Break Destinations." 2017, http://travel.usnews.com/rankings/best-spring-break-destinations/.


19 comments:

  1. I know with traveling my family has most always found it best to fly. Driving can save a little money, but on one of our first road trips are car broke down causing us almost three thousand dollars in repairs. What people are really paying for with the driving vs flying is time. A couple extra dollars could mean a couple extra hours. Considering the time that can be saved and the extra time you can have at your destination I would consider flying a better option.

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  2. Personally I agree that the price of flying is worth the cost as it is much less stressful than driving and it is quicker. Especially when travelling out of the country. I recently visited Cancun, Mexico and it is not plausible to drive all the way there. In cases like these, it would take almost the entire trip just to drive to the destination. In country however, I have both flown and driven to Florida, and I think that flying is the much better option. Unless however, you want to sightsee along the way, then driving is the better option.

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  3. In your calculation, you fail to consider the extra night spent in a beach resort that you would be paying for if your trip was to be the same length. That extra night would certainly be a refreshingly expensive dent in your wallet. With that being said, flying is infinitely better. On the micro level, a plane will fly with or without a single ticket being purchased. Therefore it is a detriment to the environment to make a mass exodus by driving. Furthermore, driving is really only viable when traveling within the same landmass. So, over half of the world is inaccessible by driving. Therefore, airline travel is the most feasible travel possibility.

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  4. Although plane tickets can be quite expensive at times, traveling by plane is worth the cost. Driving takes much longer time which takes away time from the vacation. It also makes you more tired, causing you to be less relaxed and energized on your vacation. As you mentioned, driving does cost a lot since you have to put into account gas money, extra hotel nights, food, etc. It all depends on how well you plan your vacation to lower the cost and find the best deals.

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  5. Traveling by flying is usually a better option, especially if you were to go somewhere farther away, be it within the country or out. However, the prices vary often to a destination. By taking Miami, for example, the cost of the flight is different on days, weeks, and months depending on when you travel. As you said, during vacation times like spring break or winter break or even over the summer, flights always cost so much more money. And since airlines are oligopolies, there aren't many other options to choose from. And because of the environmental hazards and opportunity costs of driving, airlines earn a significant amount of revenue over these periods of times. I would say the same for hotel rooms or car rentals. In my opinion, the whole point of travel is to spend time leisurely and have fun, and by hoping to get cheap tickets or a cheap hotel room, you might not luck out in terms of customer service or layovers. So, even if as the customer, we search and search for lower prices, at the end of the day, you might as well give them your money and enjoy your time, because prices aren't going to get lower.

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  6. The economics of flying vs driving is a constant debate for travelers. On long haul trips, many people compare the price and duration of flying or driving to their destination. You may have to pay more to fly to most places, but you are paying for a more convenient product. Driving to Florida may take up two days of your total vacation, but flying usually only affects your morning time, which can be critical if your vacation can only be for a limited time. This is why many business personal fly over driving to their meetings, because of time. Since airlines price discriminate, you can often find deals if you choose to purchase your ticket in advance and before the airlines jack up their prices for their last minute business travelers. In the end, choosing to fly or drive to your destination is all based on personal preferences and willingness to spend. Both means of transportation will get you to your destination, its just a matter of when and for how much.

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  7. I have driven and flown both to Destin, FL for spring break, and I have to say that it's much better flying because it takes a shorter amount of time, and it's more comfortable than a car. I can understand why someone wouldn't want to be in a car for 22 hours, when they can hop on a plane for just a few hours. However, you mentioned that it costs around $150 more for someone to fly than drive. I don't think you considered a large family, say that has 6 people. They'll find it way cheaper to pay for the gas of one car that will fit them all, then buy 6 plane tickets around $350 each. I think that if it's just you or you and another person flying, it's worth the opportunity cost to spend the extra money and be comfortable during travel, however if it's a large family they're probably better off driving as they will spend way less money, and have more money to spend when they reach their destination.

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  8. The cost of flying is only worth it if your trip is short enough, if you have 3 free days, of course you should fly, because if you drive you have no time to actually be there. However, on a trip maybe 10 days or longer I think it may be worth the opportunity cost of that wasted time, because then you have a car and can move around the city or state where you are staying. If you really want to live lavish though flying, and then renting a car is the most efficient way of traveling, but definitely costly. Also, yes it's crazy that flying out on a particular day is so much cheaper. I just helped my mom book our family vacation for the summer and it actually ended up being cheaper to stay for 8 days rather than 7 because of weird ticket prices.

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  9. While I agree with you that some opportunity costs of personal values are gone, I believe there is something to be said for spending time with your travel companions in the car. It simply depends on personal preferences. I also believe that driving to florida can be much cheaper than flying to florida, simply because of the oligopoly, airlines have. The airplane tickets have become so expensive, whereas driving a car, the only expense is gas. Sure there are other things like food, but with either method, people will still have to eat. One could also argue that staying over night while traveling might even be less expensive that spending that night where you will be staying as that hotel could be much nicer, and therefore much more expensive. However I do think there is something to be said for getting an extra day in florida versus in the car, which is why I believe it is just a matter of personal preference on which opportunity cost they like best.

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  10. Flying is the faster way to get to places. Flying during breaks or during the weekends is more expensive than during the week. Most airlines make most of their money off business class flights and in general those who pay more for a more luxurious flight. Booking a flight a long time before the actual departure can save a lot of money, since last minute flights tend to be very expensive. Also flights in the mornings tend to be cheaper when going back. Depending on the destination and distance the flight prices are different. For shorter distances it would be cheaper to drive, but further travels are better by plane. In this case people have to go through opportunity cost.

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  11. I think driving would be the best idea just because you get more of an adventure going through all the different states. Even though flying doesn't take as long as driving you don't have to worry about losing your luggage or forgetting something on the plane. If you have a week or longer vacation I would choose to drive to enjoy the trip but if the vacation is only a couple of days the better idea is to fly to get there quicker despite the cost.

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  12. Although I would much rather fly. Depending on who is going on the vacation. If it is just you and one other person flying is much smarter time and money wise. However if it is a large family going on a trip then driving will save a lot of money. The only real benefit is the time you save while flying. However there can be delays and also could lose your luggage. Overall I can see the benefit of both. It depends on the situation.

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  13. Dependent on the vehicle used and the number of those who are going on the trip flying may actually be cheaper. However, if you fly you are missing out on enjoying what I have always seen as a great opportunity to see large areas of the country you would have never explored otherwise. When we moved to Oregon from Ohio years ago, my family drove the distance and rather than arriving early, we enjoyed the drive as a vacation itself seeing countless parks and monuments along the way. This is the same as in this example driving to Miami. Along the drive you can stop and see family if there are any that direction, stop in Nashville for a day and enjoy a day there. Rather than simply flying and enjoying a single destination, a driving trip can result in people enjoying multiple destinations, including some they may have never even known existed prior to leaving home. In my experiences traveling, I have always ended up enjoying the journey more than the actual destination itself.

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  14. I think this is a very relevant topic since a lot of us are going away for break, and some of us will be in the real world next year and have to start paying and planning for our vacations. I think that the comparison of driving vs. flying is a good one. I also appreciated how you mentioned extra costs and time management. The opportunity cost, I think, would be driving or flying and getting there sooner. But some may say that they would rather drive for scenery than fly. It is different for all.

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  15. I just recently traveled to Fort Lauderdale, FL a few weeks ago, and I am very glad that me and my family chose flying by plane rather than driving a car the entire way. Sure, flying a plane is more expensive than a car, but flying is quicker, safer and less of a hassle than driving. If you decide to drive for the roughly 22 hour drive, you have to stop every few hours for food, gas, etc. I agree that is a lot more worthwhile flying rather than driving, even though it does cost the extra couple hundred dollars

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  16. You bring up some very good points and I would prefer to fly to my destination as opposed to driving, however, the cost, I believe is much greater than you accounted for. When driving a car to your destination, you are able to transport multiple people without paying a separate price for each person. When flying, you are to pay for a plane ticket for every person who is taking a plane on your trip. That price really adds up when all of a sudden you are paying for a family of four and each one needs a ticket. At your estimated cost of $315 average round trip ticket price, suddenly that family is paying nearly $1300 dollars on just the trip to their destination. More than two times as much as they would pay driving.

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  17. I agree that flying is the better option even though it might cost a little more than driving. Airlines bump up their prices during spring break because they know that people are going to travel long distances and most will go by plane. As I was reading this I also thought of if driving or flying is more dangerous. I found that driving is more dangerous so I think that flying as you said is the better option even though you spend more money you have more time on your vacation and less of a risk of getting seriously injured or even dying as if you were driving to your spring break destination.

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  18. I found it interesting how you looked at opportunity cost from both a cost stand point and activity stand point. Depending upon the size of a family, driving is usually the smarter, cheaper option. Although it is necessary to consistently fill the gas tank, the cost of gas does not compare to the cost of 4 or more plane tickets. Your argument was well thought out, however I would have looked at it more from the standpoint of a whole family, rather than an individual.

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  19. I personally would prefer the idea of flying. Not only is the opportunity cost much less but it also provides more opportunities to actually enjoy the vacation. The demand for flights this time of year always increases which explains why many flights, if not all, are completely full. Regardless of how you travel, you still have an important impact on the GDP. Consumers are spending money on all sorts of items in addition to the basics of a vacation (travel, hotel, food, etc). This time frame is where the economy in the United States (southeast in particular) flourishes due to the increased demand for basically everything the opportunities to make great profits.

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