Com­ing and Go­ing

Fuel prices go up, buses come back and cruis­ing keeps cruis­ing along.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Re­port­ing: An­drea Sachs, Nancy Tre­jos.

Fuel up, fees up?

CoGo likes it when some things, such as hem­lines and bal­loons, rise. But not fuel ex­penses. When fuel prices go

up, a sce­nario that ex­perts see on the hori­zon, the air­lines must ab­sorb the spike, pass it on to pas­sen­gers or find a cre­ative third op­tion.

“I don’t see [fares] go­ing up that much more,” says Ge­orge Ho­bica, founder of Air­farewatch­dog.com. “I think [the air­lines] are go­ing to go for new fees.”

With ex­ist­ing fees for bag­gage, pets, pre­s­e­lected seats, locked-in reser­va­tions, phone book­ings and more, what’s left for car­ri­ers to squeeze an­other nickel out of?

Ho­bica says he can see more air­lines adopt­ing Amer­i­can’s locked-in fares, which charge trav­el­ers a fee to se­cure a price for a set amount of time. Or they might ap­ply the 10 per­cent charge on lap chil­dren, levied on in­ter­na­tional flights, to do­mes­tic ones. An­other op­tion: Copy the for­eign car­ri­ers and charge a fee on charge card pay­ments or a per-pound fee on checked bags.

“ There’s a lot of room for new fees,” Ho­bica says. “It’s eas­ier to nab pas­sen­gers for fees af­ter they’ve booked the flight, be­cause now they’re stuck.”

In­va­sion of the buses

Trav­el­ers are get­ting back on the bus — and stay­ing on it.

The ev­i­dence: the nev­erend­ing car­a­van ply­ing Amer­ica’s high­ways.

The proof: a re­cent study of in­ter­city bus ser­vice by the Chad­dick In­sti­tute for Metropoli­tan Devel­op­ment at DePaul Uni­ver­sity in Chicago.

In 2010, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, in­ter­city bus ser­vice in the United States reached its

high­est level in years and

re­mained “the coun­try’s fastest-grow­ing mode of trans­porta­tion for the third year in a row.” Other ma­jor find­ings: • The rate of growth in 2010 ex­ceeded that of rail and air.

• In­ter­city bus op­er­a­tions ex­panded by 6 per­cent

• Curb­side op­er­a­tors, such as Bolt and Me­gabus, in­creased their de­par­tures by al­most 24 per­cent and now ac­count for more than 400 daily op­er­a­tions.

• Bus ser­vices off­set fuel con­sump­tion by about 11 mil­lion gal­lons an­nu­ally and car­bon emis­sions by an es­ti­mated 249 mil­lion pounds, equal to elim­i­nat­ing 23,818 ve­hi­cles from the road.

Cruis­ing for a cruise

Imag­ine 15 mil­lion cruis­ers — okay, not on the same boat but sail­ing over the past year.

That’s just one of the head­slap­ping find­ings of a re­cent study by the Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion. The group also fore­casts a

6.6 per­cent rise in pas­sen­gers this year, to 16 mil­lion, with 73 per­cent hail­ing from North Amer­ica. In ad­di­tion, the seas will be­come even more crowded, with 22 ships on

or­der through 2012, more than half of them slated for this year.

With a mil­lion more pas­sen­gers, the in­dus­try prob­a­bly will have enough warm bod­ies to fill those 51,306 ad­di­tional beds.

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