A travel industry expert says Iowans who like to hop planes for their getaways or on business will likely be facing higher costs and fewer flight options as 2006 progresses. Midwest travel analyst Steve Glenn is making one big prediction about the airline industry. Glenn anticipates several major mergers, including United Airlines and Continental Airlines merging, which he says makes a lot of sense after surveying the route structures. He says airlines will reduce overhead in 2006 by reducing the number of seats available.

While some low-cost carriers are sparking competition with their reduced airfares, Glenn says those cheap flights may soon become a thing of the past, as fares rise 50 to 75-dollars each way. He says after four years, the demand is finally outpacing supply, meaning there’ll be a reversal of the supply-demand curve and prices are going to escalate dramatically.

Car rentals and hotel rooms will rise in cost too, while Glenn says more hidden charges will be tacked on to vacationers’ bills, like fuel surcharges and lodging fees. Following the heavy damage in Cancun, Mexico, from last year’s hurricanes, he says Iowans are changing their vacation destinations.Glenn says Cancun will be replaced by Puerta Vallarta as a hot spot for vacationers, in addition to Costa Rica and Belize.

He says he’s seeing another trend emerge as more Iowans are getting married in warmer locales and taking their entire wedding parties along. He says they literally take their family and friends down to the honeymoon destination, like Jamaica, and get married there and the family and friends get to enjoy the experience with them. Glenn says such a “wedding-moon” can cost about the same as a big wedding and reception locally, but everyone gets to take a vacation.