Monday, April 28, 2008

Stick 'Em Up!

Yikes, another week, another fare hike is in place! This time, the unindicted co-conspirators six network airlines didn't even bother to build in a few days before they all fell into lockstep.

Not that the airlines are colluding or anything as they fix match fares. That would be wrong.

Tom Parsons of has the latest information on the 10th airline price -heist hike this year:


From Tom Parsons:

"On Thursday, April 24, United Airlines raised domestic airfares by 3 to 5 percent, primarily on markets where they do not compete with low-cost carriers. The majority of routes saw a 5 percent increase.

"On Friday, American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines quickly matched the United airfare hike. Saturday, Northwest and US Airways, the final two holdouts among the major legacy airlines, matched the airfare increase.

"'This is the tenth airfare hike we have seen from the major airlines since December 20, 2007, and the ninth increase since January 7, 2008' - says Tom Parsons, CEO and founder of, an internet travel website that tracks airfare changes and travel industry trends.

"Today, the average fuel surcharge, which has been raised four times since December 20, is $70 roundtrip. This fuel surcharge applies to both short haul and long haul flights. The major airlines have also raised leisure airfares six times since January 7, 2008.

"Of the recent airfare hikes, the first five were by flat dollar amounts, such as $10 or $20 roundtrip. On March 14, United raised airfares as little as $10 roundtrip on short haul flights of 500 miles or less one way to as much as $50 roundtrip for long haul flights that exceeded 1,500 miles one way.

"The new airfare hike that took place this past weekend added a new twist by raising some airfares by 3 percent, but the majority of increases were by 5 percent on the base airfare. The ten airfare hikes that have taken place since December 20, 2007, have primarily affected routes not served by a low-cost airline.

"'In just four short months, leisure travelers purchasing roundtrip tickets, especially on flights over 1,500 air miles one way, could be paying as much as $220 roundtrip more than they did between the same two destinations back in December' - states Parsons. One example is Newark to Fresno (CA), a cross-country route not served by a low-cost carrier. On December 18, 2007, the lowest published leisure airfare on this route on Continental was $760 roundtrip. Today, Continental charges $973 roundtrip for this route, an increase of $213 roundtrip.

"Another example is Savannah (GA) to Portland (OR). On December 18, 2007, the lowest published airfare was $650 roundtrip on Delta. Today, the lowest published airfare on this route is $878 roundtrip, an increase of $228 roundtrip.

"One of the highest airfares in America on a non-competitive route based on cost-per-mile is from San Francisco to Sacramento, which is a distance of 86 air miles each way or 172 air miles roundtrip. The lowest leisure airfare on both United and US Airways for this route is a whopping $686 roundtrip. That's $3.98 per mile. The walk-up fare (Y class) on this route is $1,510 roundtrip, or a cost of $8.77 per mile flown.

"One of the lowest airfares in America on a cost-per-mile basis is also from San Francisco. San Francisco to Las Vegas, where United and US Airways must compete with low-cost carriers Virgin America and Southwest Airlines, is a distance of 830 air miles roundtrip. On this route, all four airlines offer a roundtrip leisure airfare of $88 roundtrip, or a cost of 10.6 cents per mile. Southwest's walk-up fare (Y class) is $153 one-way or $306 roundtrip, or 36.9 cents per mile.

"'As major airlines continue to lose billions of dollars and as the cost of fuel continues to climb, leisure and business travelers should expect to see even more airfare hikes in the very near future, especially on non-competitive routes' - adds Parsons.

"Since December 20, 2007, the major airlines have now attempted to raise airfares and fuel surcharges 14 different times. Ten have stuck so far."


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