Flying Cheaper Than Driving? Not Yet, But It's Getting There - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/12/08- East Texas

Flying Cheaper Than Driving? Not Yet, But It's Getting There

We're already at record gas prices, but the Energy Department warns, it is going to get a lot worse, just in time for your summer vacations. The department is forecasting a possible jump to $3.75 a gallon by May, and in some parts of the country, as high as $4.00 in June. That has us asking, is it really even cheaper anymore to drive to your vacation spot, instead of flying? 

There's no doubt flying is easier than spending hours on the road. But now, depending on where you're going, a plane ticket may be better than paying at the pump.

"The airlines have brought out some good deals to stay competitive with the high oil prices and everything," said Canyon Creek Travel Consultant Evelyn Staton. 

As an example, we found a summer special flying from Dallas to New Orleans for $103. Now, let's say gas does cost $3.75 in June and your car gets 20 miles per gallon. That same trip adds up to just over $97.50. A little more than $5.00 difference, that could save you a lot of hours behind the wheel.

Calculating the same way on a trip from Tyler to San Diego in June, we found the average cost to fly at $304. Doing the same math, you'd shell out about $275, by driving. A $29 savings that isn't bad, if you don't mind the 20 hours in the car.

But travel experts said you should also take into account how many people are traveling, and if that fits your budget.

"If you already have a big suburban and you have a family of 8, it might be less expensive than having to pay for 8 airline tickets," said Staton.  "But if it's a standard family of 4 people, you really have to calculate it and look at your options."

Canyon Creek Travel in Tyler said flexibility is key. Flying on certain days can make or break your budget.

"Stay away from Sunday returns," said Staton.  "It is a lot less expensive to come home on a Monday or Tuesday. Instead of doing your traditional Thursday - Sunday, think abut a Saturday - Tuesday."

Canyon Creek also advised to stay away from holiday travel and keep an eye out for those last minute deals. That way hopefully, you can soak up the sun without worrying about breaking the bank.

Travel agents also recommend buying your vacation in a package, as opposed to booking a flight and hotel separately. They say 80% of the time, you'll come out ahead that way.

Courtney Lane, Reporting

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