Gas prices, fewer planes, fewer airlines fueling expensive summer travel

Airfares $100 cheaper in Akron in our test

CLEVELAND - Have you tried to book an airline ticket lately? The prices are often $300 to $400. Gas prices are fueling airfares, along with more airlines consolidating, and fewer flights. The prices have travelers deciding if they should drive or fly. Even if you have to fly, there are still ways to save.

"We used to be able to go to San Diego for $205 or something like that. It's almost double now," said Marc Kovachick of Avon Lake.

5 On Your Side looked at flights to eight cities during June and July. In our test, Akron fares averaged $365. Cleveland fares averaged $100 more.

"There are times Cleveland will compare favorably to Pittsburgh or Columbus. It's not usually as comparable as Akron," travel agent Donna Scicolone said.

Scicolone, of Astro Travel Leaders , said her clients are paying 6 percent more for tickets the first quarter of 2012 compared with the first quarter of 2011.

To save money, Scicolone said check fares at airports as far south as Columbus or as far north as Detroit. Be flexible on your travel destination as well. There are still deals to some cities.

If you can fly early in the morning you might also save on the airfare.

Finally, don't book your car, hotel and airfare a la carte.

"Sometimes you go to a package and an airline will have a bulk fare instead of a published fare," Scicolone said.

Even business travelers are booking packages now to save their company money.

The Kovachicks saved money booking a package, but, still paid more than usual.

"If you want to fly you're going to pay. We accepted that this year," Marsha Kovachick said.

The Figueroa family won't accept the higher prices at the airport. They're accepting the higher prices at the pump.

"We come from Orange City, Florida," Eric Figueroa said. "It's a hard drive. Long trip."

If you're willing to spend hours on the road, it could pay off.

Myrtle Beach is a popular destination in the summer. On the dates we checked, flying a family of four would cost $1,864.

To drive a 2007 Honda Odyssey, AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator put the cost at just $288 round trip.

"You have to enjoy the trip or you're not going to do it," Figueroa said.

Travel agents say $250 airfares will return. The million dollar question is when as another airline will complete its merger over the next two years.

Coming up Live on 5, find out how the merger of Air Tran and Southwest will mean more options for Akron travelers starting in August.

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