Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Timing! Airlines Impose Across-the-Board Fare Hike

OK, now that the air-travel system looks like the Fall of Saigon, what do the airlines do? Yes, they impose an across-the-board baseline fare increase of $20 round-trip!


This just in from the folks who run the invaluable Web site Farecompare.com, where Rick Seaney meticulously follows airline fare-change activity:

"In the midst of one of the worst travel disruptions of the year that saw thousands of passengers stranded at airports along the Eastern seaboard due to blizzard conditions, airfare prices are on the rise.

... United Airlines and Continental Airlines added a new $10 one-way "peak travel day" surcharge for the majority of their domestic routes ($20 roundtrip). These surcharges have been added to all future travel dates.

A couple of hours later, American Airlines launched a $20 roundtrip airfare hike for the bulk of its domestic route system, a hike that was soon matched by Delta Air Lines.

It's worth noting that these increases come on a day in which oil prices soared to a 26-month high, which impacts the airlines' jet fuel costs."

So far, says Farecompare's Graeme Wallace, filling in for the vacationing Seaney, Southwest has resisted joining-in in the fare hike.

With flight cancellations now exceeding 6,000 since Saturday, with New York airports barely struggling back to life as stranded passengers sleep on the floors, some geniuses at the airlines are obviously thinking: Hey, how many great chances like this do we get to totally alienate the public?

And oh, by the way, the airlines always say they are not acting in collusion on fixing prices when these fare increases get adopted all at the same time by supposedly competing carriers. No way! That would be, like, wrong -- right?


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