Breaking the bank


Gas and airline prices are on the rise as students plan their spring break getaways, making paradise a costly endeavor for travelers.  

After a sharp decline following historically high 2008 prices, crude oil prices are on the rise again. The prices usually escalate in March and peak in April. With the exception of 2008, oil prices this year are the highest they’ve ever been, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. 

On March 28, a barrel of oil cost $106.55, up from $96.97 a year before, according to the EIA. The price of Brent crude oil was $126.20 a barrel. On March 4, 2011, the price of oil per barrel was $104.42, according to the New York Stock Exchange. 

Travel agents are coping with increased flight costs and nearly one-third fewer flights, and some predict last-minute travelers will be more susceptible to seasonal transportation costs.

“We knew prices were going to go up,” said Sonja White, a travel agent at Travel Dimensions Inc. in Youngstown. “This last week, they have really gone up. A round-trip ticket to Tampa Bay for one person is $650, where last year it was $200.” 

Despite the high prices of trips, White said seeing a travel agent will always help to save money. 

“Where the consumer can really save money is with packages. Many agencies have contracts with different companies, and a travel agent knows all the best packages and how to get the best deals,” White said. 

Spring break travelers are going to have to pay a hefty price to get to their getaway destination, especially during this densely traveled time, unless tickets were booked ahead of time. 

“I shopped around on the Internet, using to compare the price of airline tickets. I also made sure I purchased my tickets and made my hotel reservations two months in advance,” said Youngstown State University junior Morgan Pallo.

YSU freshman Mollie Golden said she’s driving to Panama City, Fla., with some friends over spring break. 

“We knew we were going to have to pitch in a couple extra dollars each, due to the fact that gas prices are increasing rapidly,” Golden said. “It does suck, but what are you going to do?” 

With the high prices of oil, gas stations are bumping up their prices. The national average price of gasoline is $3.72 per gallon, which is roughly 34 cents more per gallon than last year, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. 

While some students are struggling to get to a dream vacation spot, others are simply struggling to get home.

“I’m not going home for spring break, mainly because the airline tickets are too high,” said Nicolette Allen, who is from Nassau, Bahamas. 

For spring break, Allen contemplated buying two one-way tickets for $800, which she said is a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than her regular trips back home. 

“Even traveling right now from state to state is too much money,” Allen said. “It would cost me $400 to go to Tennessee, which is my second choice. Greyhound tickets were $148 to get to Tennessee, and now they are around $260-something, not including tax, and that’s for advance tickets, which are usually cheaper.”