Oil prices and unrest in Egypt: Will they affect travel?

Airlines and Cruise lines have been watching the price of oil for quite some time. Fuel surcharges are unpopular fees and neither wants to add them on again if they can possibly avoid it. Some say fuel surcharges are inevitable and quite possibly the least of our worries.

Cruise lines, almost universally, have a ceiling of between $70 and $90 a barrel for oil. If the price reaches that point, they can add on a fuel surcharge. Prices have actually exceeded that threshold recently and cruise lines still did not add on the extra fee, fearful that the fee combined with the recovering economy could drive buyers away.

American Airlines added fuel surcharges of as much as $5 each way on many routes with United Continental Holdings Inc. adding a $3 each-way surcharge. Just Friday, British Airways said they would increase the fuel surcharge they already have in place.

“British Airways will increase its fuel surcharge on long haul services from Tuesday, February 8,” it said in a statement but not on short haul services.

How it will all play out is up for grabs right now but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is concerned about additional factors that could affect travel far greater than a fuel surcharge.

Flickr photo by ayman_ay17

Saying the Middle East “”is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends,” Clinton is concerned about unrest in the region.

“Leaders in the region may be able to hold back the tide for a little while, but not for long,” she said. “This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable.”

If danger presents itself, travel warnings issued by the US Department of State could be extended to neighboring regions as well. If that happens, tour operators, airlines and cruise lines would probably react similarly to how the have this week, canceling service to Egypt.

On the other hand, tour operators in Spain can see an up side to the whole issue, as alternative ports of call and destinations found for booked travelers. This week, the German divisions of Thomas Cook and TUI Travel said they were seeing a trend for customers to switch Egypt holidays for ones to Spain or Turkey.

While a safe alternative is a good idea, it will hardly fulfill the lifelong dreams some have had for visiting Egypt, a trip that probably won’t happen any time soon.

The Travel Channel offers these tips for traveling overseas: