Travel question of the day: Simon Calder on why US flights are more expensive this year

Have a travel question that needs answering? Ask our expert Simon Calder

Norwegian is launching a new route to Las Vegas this autumn
Norwegian is launching a new route to Las Vegas this autumn

Q Why the sudden huge hike in British Airways and Virgin flights to the US? We have family in America and need to fly into Phoenix (for which the only direct flight is BA) or Las Vegas. It’s almost double the fare this year.

Julie Morgan

A The short answer is “supply and demand”. In terms of demand, there are plenty of people on both sides of the Atlantic prepared to pay what these two premium airlines are charging for non-stop flights. On the supply side, there has also been a reduction in competition over the past decade, with the six big US airlines consolidating into three: United/Continental, Delta/Northwest and American/US Airways. Go back five years and the sure bet for a cheap connecting flight to a destination in America always used to be on US Airways, but since it became part of American Airlines (or vice-versa, depending on your corporate viewpoint) the number of outright bargains has slumped.

To the rescue comes WestJet, flying from Gatwick to various Canadian cities with onward connections to a range of US destinations. For Phoenix next month, the fare is around £800 return via Calgary, compared with at least £150 more on the BA non-stop from Heathrow. And if you’re travelling from November to March, Norwegian has some excellent deals on its Gatwick-Las Vegas route.

Every day, our travel correspondent, Simon Calder, tackles a reader’s question. Just email yours to s@hols.tv or tweet @simoncalder

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