Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Heads Up: United Slaps a Fare-Hike In

We're all paying attention to the merger news. What a great time to slip in another fare hike/fuel surcharge.

Rick Seaney at is, as usual, is on alert. His e-mail last night:

""Merger Day Surprise: United Airlines Raises Fuel Surcharges another $20 Roundtrip

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 11:15pm CDT

With oil hitting a new high today of $114 a barrel and consumers beginning to absorb the ramifications of the pending creation of the world’s largest airline – one would think commercial aviation would have nothing else to “give” on this crazy tax day – sadly, one would be wrong …

Tonight after a frenetic day where nearly 4,000 articles were written on the Delta-Northwest merger (according to Google News) -- United Airlines is attempting to increase airline ticket prices for the 12th time this year by adding an additional $10 to $20 roundtrip fuel surcharge on the bulk of its route system for both leisure and business travelers – leaving only the cheapest promotional airfares flown by fewest travelers with no increase.

Earlier today I predicted two or three airfare increases in the next 8 weeks, but I may have to revise that as I didn’t expect another for a few weeks after last weeks attempt to raise base airfare prices from $4-30 (also initiated by United Airlines) was widely successful – making it the 7th successful increase this year in 11 attempts.

I am now updating our running 2008 airfare hike timeline as follows:

1. ---January 3rd, initiated by United, $10 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

2. ---January 11th, initiated by United, $30 roundtrip, unsuccessful

3. ---January 17th, initiated by American, $20 roundtrip, unsuccessful

4. ---January 24th, initiated by Continental, $20 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

5. ---February 22nd, initiated by United, $10 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

6. ---February 28th, initiated by Delta, $10 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

7. ---March 7th, initiated by United, $10 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

8. ---March 14th, initiated by United, $4-$50 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

9. ---March 19th, initiated by Delta, $10 roundtrip, unsuccessful

10. ---March 27th, initiated by Delta, $10 roundtrip, unsuccessful

11. ---April 9th, initiated by United, $4-$30 roundtrip, successful (sticky)

12. ---April 15th, initiated by United, $10-$20 roundtrip, pending"""

Rick continues:

"At this point all I can say after this exhausting day is – ouch! – Consumers who haven’t heeded my advice about locking in summer travel plans, should do so as quickly as possible. My gut tells me that this attempt may not make it, as the last early week fuel surcharge increase attempt by Delta was scuttled (increases historically are started late Thursday evening) – but I cannot rule out the possibility of major matching in the next 5 days.

I will update on any significant activity in the coming days – in the mean time for those that didn’t get enough on the merger -- you checkout my consumer oriented thoughts on the topic in my weekly column."


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