Cost of travel going down

It doesn’t happen often, but there was good news in the April travel price index: The cost of domestic travel went down last month.

The TPI, which is a derivative of the federal consumer price index, tracks changes on the price of travel-related goods and services: restaurant meals, lodging, transportation. It’s calculated monthly by the U.S. Travel Association.

The April calculations showed the cost of domestic travel went down 0.3 percent from March. And the year-to-year numbers also looked good. Compared with April 2012, the TPI for the same month this year rose an imperceptible 0.1 percent.

And, for another change of pace, it was all because the cost of fuel — and therefore the cost of transportation — was significantly down from the levels seen in April 2012. Fuel was down 8.2 percent from a year earlier and down 2.5 percent from the beginning of the year.

Travel light, board American first

American Airlines is rolling out a bit of common sense: Passengers who don’t have a sherpa-worthy amount of carry-on baggage are being allowed priority boarding — right after the elites, in fact.

American’s new policy is intended to speed up boarding.

The process of getting passengers to their seats and buckled in for takeoff has been significantly slowed since airlines began to run up fees for checking baggage, thus encouraging more flyers to bring all their luggage into the cabin.

The new boarding process works like this: People with first-class or business class tickets and other elites are boarded.

Then, before anyone else in coach is allowed to board, flyers with one personal item that can fit under the seat are sent down the jetwayCQ to get settled.

Then the rest of the boarding zones are called normally.

If we could only get airlines to try boarding passengers in window seats first, then middle seats, then aisles, we’d really be getting somewhere.

Just think of it: no crawling over each other. Sounds like heaven.

Icelandair is back

Looking for an alternative to the major carriers for you flight to Europe? Then check out Icelandair.

The well-regarded national carrier has restarted seasonal service between Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Reykjavik through mid-October.

From Reykjavik, it’s a nice little hop to most European capitals.

I’ve never flown Icelandair myself, but several co-workers have and swear by it for an alternative, economical link to Europe.

And let’s not forget that Iceland itself is a dream destination for many.

Check out the airline’s summer timetable PDF at http://bit.ly/112dqrU.

Get travel news daily at www.sctimes.com/travel, on Twitter @lisasschwarz, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa. Send questions to lschwarz@stcloudtimes.com.
Lisa Schwarz

About Lisa Schwarz

By day, I'm a St. Cloud Times editor guiding coverage of politics, government, public safety and business beats. By night, I'm leading the cubicle jailbreak as the Times Traveler. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LisaSSchwarz and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa
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