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Delta Hikes Fuel Surcharge, Breaks the $100 Roundtrip Barrier

April 29, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Delta,Fuel Surcharges

Yesterday Delta Airlines began the 14th attempted domestic airfare hike which will affect the bulk of its route system (that’s over 13,000 city-pairs). United Airlines joined yesterday, and American came onboard today.

The increase – in the form of a fuel surcharge – is from $10 to $40 roundtrip, depending on the type of airfare and city-pair.

This means, travel between some city-pairs will include a whopping $110 roundtrip fuel surcharge. In comparison, the average transatlantic fuel surcharge is about $230 roundtrip.

It appears that Delta is poised to make its CEO’s call for a 15-20% airfare increase (to offset fuel prices) a grim reality in the coming the weeks. I’ll explain, if you keep reading.

You will remember that last week, Delta took part in that United-initiated 2-5% increase — and this latest hike includes many of the airfares laddered in the city-pairs. It does, however, spare some of the cheapest “sale” airfares and other, highly competitive airfares.

The bottom line (especially for airlines without significant fuel hedges): they have to increase airfares steadily and continue to trim unprofitable routes — much to the chagrin of the traveling public. I believe we may see at least two or more increases of this magnitude before the end of May.

My advice: if you’re traveling this summer, I urge you to buy your tickets now to avoid future increases.

Here is our updated 2008 Increase Timeline 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, successful (sticky)

13. April 24th, initiated by United, $4-$70, pending

14. April 28th, initiated by Delta, $10 and $40 roundtrip, pending

17 Responses to “Delta Hikes Fuel Surcharge, Breaks the $100 Roundtrip Barrier”

  1. Holly says:

    You wrote that Delta raised their fuel surcharge in many markets. Is this increase already included in their fare or is this something that will be taxed on when I’m done making my reservaions? I just don’t want to be surprised when my fare goes from say $200 to $240 for my roundtrip ticket.

  2. Rick Seaney says:

    Airlines – for domestic travel – take the fuel surcharge and the base airfare and add it together and then taxes are applied and fees added. This is all part of your ticket you bought.

    It is similar for international travel except there is not a percentage based tax (7.5% for domestic travel), but it is included in your out the door price.

    That was a long way to say, you will NOT be hit with charges when you arrive unless you check a second bag, check your bags at the curb, have to much weight in your bag …

  3. Karen Kindschi says:

    You say to go ahead and book now for summer tickets. What’s your advice for someone wanting to travel next Jan. and Feb. Right now, the same flights I used in Jan and Feb of this year are over $400 more per person for travel in those months of 2009. Book now or try to wait it out a bit?

  4. Frank Lee Doobyus says:

    If you’ve any ideas for how to get anything even approaching reasonable airfares to the smaller markets in the Midwest, I would be enthralled. Here’s the story …

    Airfares to smaller Midwestern markets for summer travel have more than doubled from mid-February to early March. Unfortunately, such smaller market destinations have always been at the mercy (none!) of the airlines.
    In mid-February I had checked coach airfares Baltimore MD to Sioux Falls SD for June 26-July 1 – found NWA between $370-$400/person with 1 stop in Minneapolis. Checked in early March – exact same NWA flights/dates/times between $800-$850/person … or MORE!
    Trip back for a big family reunion (my wife’s Mom is 88) will NOT happen.
    We just will NOT be so blatantly ripped off by CEO greed. I “get” the huge fuel cost increases airlines are hit with … but I’m not willing to “buy” the $330-$450/person fare bump to pay for it and allow a “reasonable” profit.
    The sad part of this: The airlines have ALWAYS seriously over-charged for these smaller destinations/markets for decades … while they assiduously crushed any possible competition and preserved a total monopoly.
    We’ve flown almost every airline both domestically and internationally (Europe, Australia, Asia) over the last 35 years. When we can fly round trip to Paris and other world capitals for significantly less than it costs to fly to South Dakota – there just MIGHT be something terribly wrong with U. S. domestic aviation.
    They’ll NOT have me as a customer until it’s fixed. We’re done here!

  5. Does farecompare.com only give information on one way or roundtrip flights? I have a multiple destinatin flight from lax to tgu and returning from Sap to lax ….. (tgu and sap are in Honduras leaving and returning to los angeles).. IS it possible to get information on that through fare.compare.com

  6. Nicole says:

    What is your advice on traveling in mid September? Should I book now or will prices be better at the end of summer?

  7. Rick Seaney says:

    Karen, I would wait a bit for Jan/Feb 2009 domestic travel, the best time to start shoppping for that trip would be early in the fall unless you sign up for alerts and see it drop dramatically (unlikely), a good price for a coast to coast leisure trip nowadays (not a great price) is sub $300 out the door roundtrip (as a quick benchmark).

  8. Rick Seaney says:

    Frank, unfortunately smaller market cities are taking the brunt of hikes and it is only going to get worse. The main reason is there isn’t enough competition on a day to day basis to drive the price back down. The cheapest days to travel will be Tue, Wed, Sat, you can get a decent deal if you are very flexible but unfortunately you are going to pay the small city, no competition premium. I wish I had a better suggestion, but there isn’t much relief unless we get fuel back to $60/barrel

  9. Rick Seaney says:

    Elena, just click the multi city button on the search box on our home page, it will let you do multi-city trip pricing queries.

  10. Rick Seaney says:

    Nicole, typically prices drop for september travel in mid summer (in preparation for the slower time for travel when kids go back to school). Unfortunately this year the legacy airlines are likely to cut back 10-20% of their fall flights in order to keep planes full and higher fall prices sticking. Definitely start shopping now (not necessarily buying) and if you see a decent deal pounce on it quickly. I personally would sign up for alerts and see what unfolds in the next few months unless a nice sale price popped in before then.

  11. Meryl says:

    I need to fly from NY to LAX in August (one way) and from MCO to EWR one way on labor day. The rates for Virgin are ok now, but should I wait for their next sale or book now. The Florida flights are nuts, so do I book now the cheapest I can find or wait?

  12. Larry Adams says:

    Rick,
    Should I wait or buy round trip air tickets now for Labor Day weekend (8/29/08 – 8/31/08) from Atlanta to Denver? Thank you!

  13. Silvio says:

    Frank,
    so you think there is something wrong with U. S. domestic aviation. Think again – come visit me in Canada. You’ll be surprised to find out that 500$ is actually a “good deal” to fly Coast to Coast, say Toronto to Vancouver. Now you see why I drive to Buffalo, NY (100miles) and then fly to California to spend my Xmas break, for only $240 RT (incl. Tax). That was last Xmas.
    Rick,
    why are tickets so expensive within Canada, compared to US tickets? I mean, the route from Toronto to Vancouver is quite busy, comparable to NYC-SEA, for example. It’s not a niche market. Then why do I have to pay twice for it?

  14. Holly says:

    I am planning to go to Rio for New Years leaving December 30th. With fuel charges going up, do you recommend booking now or trying to wait and hope for a better price. Currently, the best deal I have found is a Delta flight from St Louis to Rio is running $1200.00.

  15. Kathy says:

    We are planning a family trip from the Midwest to Florida in January of 2009. I have been watching airfares and they have been going up all week. Some of the carriers have not release their prices yet. Should I wait until the end of May/early June before I make my reservations or wait until Fall?

  16. Rick Seaney says:

    Hi Kathy, this is a tough question, it all depends on what happens with fuel between now and around election time this year. Typically you can get some decent airfare sales for January travel late in the fall, so I would wait right now … my only worry is that oil might be $150-$180 by then and that will trump any possible sales. I personally would setup an alert on our system in case something drops and you can lock in, otherwise wait until the fall.

  17. Cara says:

    Rick,
    Great info!
    Any advice on non-domestic airfare for next winter? We are planning a trip from Minneapolis to Puerto Vallarta in Feb. and usually buy in the fall when charters come out but the oil prices concern us (like it does everyone!).
    Thanks in advance!

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