UK airfares plunge after ‘Brexit’ vote

Airfares from the U.S. to Britain have dropped about 15 percent since the United Kingdom voted to pull out of the European Union last month.

But a study by Boston flight research site Hopper.com said fares to other destinations in Europe also have dropped, suggesting that other factors are at play besides the so-called Brexit vote and the resulting drop in the value of the British pound.

The study found that flights from the U.S. to Edinburgh, Scotland; London; and Manchester, England, have dropped 7 percent to 18 percent in price since the Brexit vote. But flights to Paris; Madrid, Spain; Rome; and Frankfurt, Germany, comparably dropped 14 percent to 17 percent.

One possible explanation is that airlines cut prices after noticing that demand softened for many European destinations after the terror attacks, the Greek debt crisis and the refugee emergency, among other events, said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist for Hopper.

The Brexit vote may have been the last straw, he said.

“It looked like a deliberate act by the airlines,” Surry said. “It seems like we’ve already had various reports early in the summer that people were seeing lower demand.”

How long will the lower fares last? That depends, he said, on how fast Americans snap up the discounted fares to Europe.

“It seems unlikely that they are going to drop lower than they are now,” Surry added.

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BILL CALLS FOR FAMILY SEATING ON FLIGHTS

Times have been good for the airline industry, but perhaps not so much for families who fly.

Strong demand for air travel and fees for seat upgrades, entertainment, snacks and checked bags have generated record profits for most major U.S. carriers.

But one of the downsides of this financial windfall is that it has become much harder for parents and children to sit together because planes are more crowded than ever and many airlines charge extra to reserve specific seats.

A bill added recently to funding legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration aims to tackle this problem. The bill, by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., calls on airlines to create and submit to the secretary of Transportation a policy to make sure that children 13 and younger are seated next to accompanying family members older than 13.

“All we are asking is for airlines to do a better job of accommodating parents ahead of time so we can make flying a better experience for families and other passengers aboard,” Davis said in a news release.

Under the bill, airlines would be allowed to charge an extra fee if accommodating family members means putting them in extra roomy, higher-priced seats.

A trade group for the nation’s airlines said the law is not needed.

“Airlines have always worked to accommodate customers who are traveling together, including those traveling with children, and will continue to do so — without unnecessary federal mandates,” said Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for Airlines for America.

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