by Michelle Alerte
If not planned correctly, traveling to Haiti can be complicated and expensive. For Jiordany Thomas, a 39-year-old employee at Long Island Auto Group, he and his friends look for any cost-saving measure that’ll ease the damage to their pockets.
“I have friends who have bought two one-way tickets instead of a roundtrip ticket,” Thomas says. “They felt it was better for them because their return date was open-ended enough to use this option. They managed to save a little over $100 on their trip overall.”
Like Thomas’ friends, a number of Haiti-bound travelers are saving up to 30 percent on their flights by purchasing two one-way tickets, as opposed to booking one round-trip reservation.
The average cost of a ticket to Haiti during nonpeak seasons is $500, according to travel site Expedia. One-way tickets during the same period are around $215, making the potential savings about $100.
Departing from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, travelers can expect to find flights on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Copa, and Air France –with American Airlines providing the most flights. Flying from Miami within the same time period however, customers will find only three airlines: American, Copa, and Delta.
The unfortunate surprise is that whether traveling from Miami or New York, you can expect to pay within the same $500 range, with the shocking exception of a Delta flight from Miami coming in at a whopping $1,600.
“I’m not opposed to using the one-way ticket strategy,” Marie Cadet, a 52-year-old mother of two, says. “But with taxes and fees, I didn’t see any difference in the price.” Ticket prices depend on a variety of variables including travel dates, duration and purchase time.
While there are people who believe the extra step when booking the reservation makes a difference, there are others who don’t see it justifying the savings.
“I’ve found that getting a deal with one-way tickets to Haiti often involves buying each from two different airlines,” Pascale Lambert, a travel agent for Apel International Travel, with over 20 years in the business, said. In fact, “round-trip tickets can often be cheaper.”
Haiti still cheaper than the rest
Haiti is one of the cheaper destinations in the region if flying from the East Coast, George Hobica, founder of the low airfare alert and travel website, Airfarewatchdog.com, says. “Sometimes flights from Miami are more expensive than from Boston or NYC due to higher demand there.”
During peak travel seasons, like Christmas and summer months, fares increase significantly, but generally speaking, it’s one of the least expensive options.
“We’ve noticed that fares to Haiti have gone down considerably, as they have in many Caribbean destinations thanks to increased competition,” he says. Flights to Haiti have decreased by 40 percent in some cases. “For example, Delta has $343 round-trip fares from Boston to Port-au-Prince throughout the fall.
“It’s not always the cheapest of course,” Hobica says, but take into account that “destinations like Bridgetown Barbados, St. Barts, and Tortola are usually much more expensive.”
Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics at Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), has a different belief. ARC, a technology company, provides ticket transaction data for the travel industry.
“Airlines have reduced the number of seats while more people want to fly because of the economic recovery,” Thackston said in an interview with San Francisco Gate. “All this leads to higher airfares.”
When all the airfare theories and hypothesis settle, the results remain the same. The price of a ticket won’t deter them from making that trip.
“We don’t have a choice,” Cadet said about the increasing cost of travel. “Haiti is my home and I can never stop going back.”