Why the Airlines Are Weathering the Recession

As noted, the airlines still have some tinkering -- and capacity cutting -- to do, and until they get it just right, empty seats should mean more airfare sales. And, as I noted last week, there are already real bargains to be had in business class to Europe.

But say you're looking for a big splashy summer vacation and you're not sure there will be any sales then -- what to do?

Well, you could do what our parents did at Sears or Montgomery Ward and buy on layaway. Yes, a 2-year-old Web site called eLayaway allows travelers to buy on the installment plan, and businesses like Hyatt Hotels, are expected to begin marketing gift cards through eLayaway for hotel stays, meals and more -- and now airlines are said to be pondering joining eLayaway for anyone interested in buying flights on the installment plan.

So, amid the stress of the season, there are a couple of things to be thankful for: There still is an airline industry (and if you'll recall, there was some doubt on that score when so many carriers were going under in the spring); there may be more, good airfare sales in our future; and we can be grateful that we are not running a U.S. car company.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I smell cookies burning.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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