Q. I have to attend a conference in New York on post-traumatic stress on 11 September. I had thought that flights would be at least reasonable on/around this date but they look expensive. Why would fares have rocketed? David Jessop, Bristol
A. Early September is a popular time for Americans – who constitute the biggest airline market in the world – to return home after summer vacations. It is also the time when business travellers start flying again. Their collective demand for westbound transatlantic flights pushes up fares. In fact, though, this September isn't looking as expensive as it might, possibly because of the so-called "Olympic hangover" depleting the number of US travellers travelling to the UK in late August and therefore not returning home in early September. (Perhaps you are comparing fares in 2012 with, say, 2009, when prevailing fares were much lower.)
Direct flights from Bristol to New York have now unfortunately ended, but Aer Lingus has a good connection via Dublin for around £500 return, with the added bonus that you clear US formalities during the stopover. The same sort of fares apply for non-stop flights from Heathrow on BA, Virgin, American Airlines and Delta – the last of these tends to be cheapest.
The "9/11 effect", with passengers unwilling to travel on the anniversary of the airborne terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, has waned over the years. Initially, airlines cancelled numerous flights on and around the anniversary, but now they report no significant reduction in demand.
Q. My son is booked to fly with Ryanair from Stansted next month, but he has inadvertently deleted his confirmation email and booking reference. He has been unable to contact the airline by phone. What is the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient method of obtaining a duplicate ticket? Name and address supplied
A. Your concern is understandable, since Ryanair insists on every passenger checking in online. But so long as your son still has the same email address as he used to book the flight, he can relax. He simply needs to check a week or so before departure. Ryanair should send an automated email explaining the procedure for online check-in, which will include all the details he needs.