Finance

Apr 30 2017

Venezualan Flights Are Dirt Cheap. If You Can Get A Ticket: Parallels: NPR #travel #agents

#where can i get cheap airline tickets
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Listen to the Story

At the official rate, 1 U.S. dollar is worth 6.3 Venezuelan bolivars. But in a country with runaway inflation, the black market rate is about 60 bolivars to the dollar. This has made airfares extremely cheap for those using currency acquired on the black market. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here’s his story.

A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.

The only affordable option was to fly to the Colombian border, take a taxi across to the Venezuelan side, then catch another flight to Caracas. I finally land in Caracas — 12 hours after leaving home.

Gaming The System

The reason behind the shortage of airline tickets is Venezuela’s whacked-out currency, the bolivar. Travelers are taking advantage of the huge disparity between the official and black-market exchange rates.

Venezuela’s government has set the official exchange rate at 6.3 bolivars to the U.S. dollar. But in a country with runaway inflation, this bears no resemblance to reality.





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