Rising cost of jet fuel causing flight problems

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - You know that pain you feel at the pump? It's about to get excruciating at the airport.

Airfares are rising, carriers are canceling flights, and you can attribute it all to the climbing cost of gas.

It is an airline's biggest expense. Every day, the country's carriers buy 48 million gallons of fuel and in the past year, their costs have soared 40% on it.

Airlines say they can't afford all of the routes they used to schedule. And in South Carolina, it looks like one may not be able to fly at all. Public charter airline Direct Air has canceled all of its flights due to a so-called fueling issue. One stranded passenger said he learned the problem was this: "the financial issues that the company was facing," he says. "Whether or not they had the ability to have those funds, and have that fuel approved. Because, apparently, you have to go through approval to even get fuel."

A gallon of jet fuel sold for an average of $3 in 2011, up from $2.15 in 2010. And airfares jumped accordingly…about 8%...to an average of $345 per ticket last year.

Court Travel president Nancy Carter says it's getting to the point where you won't want to haggle with airlines alone.  For one, a travel agent has more tools to find the lowest flights.

"We have the added ability to look through our GES systems, central reservation systems, where we're seeing actual fare allocations," she says.

And they also have more experience in getting you fair solutions when an airline throws you a curve ball.

"Six hour flight changes or perhaps an airline is no longer flying" Carter says. "We know how long we need to pressure those airlines to get you an acceptable solution."