More Americans are choosing to travel internationally these days. In fact, according to CheapOair’s recent travel trends report, international air travel has increased by nearly 170 percent since 2013—with a 30 percent increase since last year alone.
RewardExpert spoke with Thomas Spagnola, the company’s senior vice president of supplier relations, about the services CheapOair offers, what makes the company a travel industry standout, and his insight into this dramatic increase in overseas vacations.
The Best of Both Worlds
Founded in 2005, CheapOair’s parent company is Fareportal, a technology company that also powers hybrid travel agencies OneTravel and Travelong. Spagnola, who founded Cheap Seats Inc. in 1987 and was president of 1800CheapSeats Inc. from 2003 to 2006, began his position at CheapOair in 2007.
“We saw the evolution of how the industry was growing from an online perspective,” he said of CheapOair’s early years. “We expanded the idea of not just offering the lowest fares but having a call center with over 2,500 agents as well. We continued to have the traditional sense of a travel agent with people able to call in, but we also were able to reach out globally and build relationships with more than 450 airlines. A customer gets the best of both worlds with CheapOair.”
In addition to enabling consumers to compare and book cheap flights from more than 450 airlines, CheapOair’s website and award-winning apps can also be used to search and book hotel rooms at discounted rates as well as compare deals from more than 30,000 rental car locations. CheapOair customers can bundle flights, hotels and cars into vacation packages for even bigger savings.
Leading the Industry
While today’s consumer has many options for finding travel deals online, Spagnola said CheapOair is the best because they are a leader in the industry.
“CheapOair has always been about getting the lowest price, but we also give you the option to upgrade into different classes of service and different types of ancillary products,” he explained. “This means you can get the lowest fare and then, for a nominal fee, buy the seat with extra legroom or priority check-in. More airlines that we work with offer these ancillary products than any other online travel company at this time.”
CheapOair’s best price guarantee gives travelers peace of mind when booking. If the itinerary’s price falls on CheapOair within 24 hours of purchase, or a lower rate is found on another U.S.-based website, the company will provide a full refund or refund the difference in price.
Call center representatives are available 24/7/365 to help with booking, refunds and more. “We see about 50 percent of people who book online still want the comfort level of being able to talk to a live person,” Spagnola said. “We have general customer service and specialized desks to encourage our customers to call us. There’s a comfort level there that you won’t find with other online travel agencies.”
CheapOair even offers consumers a rewards credit card. With no annual fee, the card allows travelers to earn six points for every dollar they spend on CheapOair, four points for every dollar spent on dining, and two points for every dollar spent elsewhere. Redeem points for flights, hotels and cars booked on the company’s website.
Competition Yields Affordable Ticket Prices
According to Spagnola, Americans are flying more—both nationally and internationally—because competition between carriers is increasing and keeping ticket prices affordable.
“The fuel costs for airlines continue to be very stagnant or equal to last year or even a few years back,” he explained. “This means the cost of airfare isn’t going up and demand is increasing. The airlines have supplemented this demand by adding more seats into heavily populated markets and even some secondary markets. It’s a win-win for the customer because they can still buy seats at a low, competitive price even though travel demand is as high as ever this summer into the fall.”
CheapOair’s travel trends report showed that while domestic ticket prices in 2017 have been slightly higher than this time last year, they are still lower than the average since 2013. International airfare is the cheapest it has been in recent history—17 percent lower than 2013.
“If you look into the Asian market, there has been more capacity growth in Japan, Asia, Southeast Asia and China over the last few years,” Spagnola continued. “This is making prices from the U.S. as cheap or even cheaper than going to Hawaii or the Caribbean.”
He noted that carriers have added capacity into Europe and Mexico as well. “From a price and competition standpoint, it’s an absolute perfect storm for people looking to travel. Consumers are looking for the best deals, and that’s where CheapOair is the leader in the industry.”