'Early Show' Guest Pops Host's Bubble on 'Through the Roof' Airfare

CBS's "The Early Show" got an early start on the grumbling Oct. 30.

CBSNews.com and "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen warned viewers about flying the "pricey skies" this "hardly festive" holiday season because airfares have gone "way up." Chen said fares were "absolutely going through the roof."

Chen served up the numbers:

I want to put up two graphics that show how much prices have increased in the last year. To fly from New York to Miami the current average fare is $363 round-trip ... Now last year the same trip cost on average $321, that's 13 percent higher than last year. And to fly from Los Angeles to Dallas, Fort Worth airport, the current average is $391 round-trip. Last year that same trip cost on average $341, that's 15 percent higher than last year. Do you see any signs of airfare prices changing direction?

Amy Ziff, the editor-at-large of Travelocity, qualified Chen's numbers by saying those figure only tracked Thanksgiving specific airfare and opposed Chen's assumption that airfares were unusually high:

What we are starting to see, finally, finally for the first time as long as I can remember for the holidays, we are starting to see some holiday fares soften ... Now when I say soften, I'm not saying you are going to get a steal of a deal if you haven't bought your Thanksgiving ticket. I'm talking about in the past three weeks they've come down by about $11. They started on average domestic fares $404, $393. But that's a big deal because we've been riding such high, high, high fares.

Ziff also pointed out that "Airlines have been very candid about the fact that they need to raise their prices."

The price of crude was a big reason why airlines had their prices so high and the crude has come down significantly. But now there is a new story.

The airline industry is dealing with an overall drop in traffic (2.9 percent year over year in September) and the financial crisis.

"The deterioration in traffic is alarmingly fast paced and widespread ... Even the good news that the oil price has fallen to half its July peak is not enough to offset the impact of the drop in demand," Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO, said to the ‘Autopia' blog at Wired.com Oct. 28.

"There are several elements of the current slowdown that have the IATA really freaked out. One is the timing of the numbers. They show that demand began weakening a full month before the brunt of the credit and stock market fiascos, and IATA anticipates that traffic will tumble further as the full impact of these events is felt," ‘Autopia' blogger Dave Demerjian wrote.