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NEW! Carry-on Baggage Guide – Save Time, Save Frustration

June 30, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have just put together a handy “Airline Carry-on Baggage Chart” that you can access by clicking here, or just look to the left — it’s in the same column as my constantly updated “U.S. Domestic Airline Fee Chart”.

What’s great about the Carry-on Baggage chart is, you’ll know BEFORE you fly exactly how big a bag you can bring aboard your airline, and what the weight limitations are (if any).

You see, the baggage police are out in force — examining the sizes of carry-on bags as they haven’t done in years — and this is because they expect more of us will resort to carry-ons, because of new fees for checking bags.

Check out this new chart — it’s just one more tool that I hope will ease some of the frustration of flying.

Continental Flip-Flops: the $40 Airfare Hike is Back ON

June 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 0 comments

Update: It appears Continental made an airfare filing mistake this morning at 10am and corrected it at 12:30pm …

I told you airfares were volatile — and Continental is now proving my point.

The carrier has “changed its mind” about bailing out of the $40 airfare hike, and has reinstated the increase — but only at the $40 roundtrip level (this had been a $20 to $40 increase).

We have seen this behavior in the past with fuel surcharges — but it is rare that we see a wholesale change in airfares in back-to-back airfare distributions (U.S. Domestic airfares are distributed at 10:00am EDT, 12:30pm EDT and 8:00pm EDT weekdays, 5:00pm EDT on weekends).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Continental travelers planning future travel have about a 2 hour window to book at the rolled back level as these new reinstated higher airfares will hit the reservation systems at approximately 3:00pm EDT.

Continental Unexpectedly Bails OUT of $40 Airfare Increase

June 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Southwest | 0 comments

This morning, Continental Airlines rolled back the bulk of its $20 to $40 roundtrip increase; this latest fare hike was initiated last Thursday by Southwest.

Note: every time Continental has rolled back (or not participated) in an airfare hike, it has spelled the death of that hike.

What makes this turnabout especially unusual is the fact that it was initiated by Southwest, and the legacy airlines took this rare opportunity to quickly double-up and hike fares by up to $40 roundtrip.

Over the weekend there were some signs of softening by other legacy airlines as they began to tinker with some rollbacks in the lower end of the increase ($20 roundtrip) – some of which was related to a variety of July 4th holiday weekend sales.

Airline ticket prices are going to be highly volatile in the coming weeks and months as airlines search for just the right mix of ticket price, add-on fees and flight cutbacks to stem the flow of red ink caused by record high fuel prices. Air travel consumers should be aware of this volatility and take advantage of down swings – like the one most likely to occur later today — as other legacy airlines are apt to rollback in the wake of Continental.

U.S. Air Travel Sweet Spot – July 4th and Halloween

June 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 7 comments

In the past week, legacy airlines (along with Southwest) have changed their airfares significantly across the country. Most of these airline ticket changes are being hiked based on travel departure date and are timed to coincide with reductions in flights with the intent to keep planes packed.

There are quite a few super cheap last minute July 4th tickets (some thru the 10th of July) running between dozens of cities (meant to top off those already packed planes).

After the 4th — prices jump a bit, but are still much less than airline tickets departing in early November (or, starting right around Halloween), where prices jump dramatically.

If you want to travel cheap in the next few months, buy airline tickets in these sweet spots — and if you want to have a decent price on holiday seats, definitely start shopping now — these premium seats are more likely to go up in price the coming weeks and months (unless you think oil is coming down…)

Headlines of the Day

June 30, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 0 comments
Had to chuckle when I saw this story from TV station KETK in Texas, titled (with admirable understatement, I thought), “Airline travel becoming expensive”.

Yes, it sure is.

Then, the Dallas Morning News had a report called “Airlines have lost much of their market value” but this story dug deep, and included such nuggets as the 10 largest airlines have lost more than $23 billion in value, and that while Southwest dropped 12% in market value, the other 9 carriers dropped 73%.

Unfortunately, nothing to chuckle about in this story.

All Legacy Airlines Match 20th Attempted Airfare Hike of 2008

June 28, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 0 comments

It appears that the 20th attempted airfare hike this year is going to sail through without any issues as tonight Northwest Airlines and US Airways completed the matching of the other 4 legacy airlines (American, Continental, Delta & United) by raising prices $20 to $40 roundtrip across the bulk of their respective route systems.

Southwest Airlines initiated the 20th attempted airfare hike of 2008 Thursday by raising fares by $10 – $20 roundtrip for travel starting 2nd of November.

The legacy airlines took this rare opportunity to not only match Southwest but to “double-up” on the hike, raising most routes by$40 roundtrip.

As usual the legacy airlines tiptoed around most Southwest overlapping routes to stay competitive.

I do not expect to see the same torrid pace of airfare hikes in the latter half of 2008 as the first – at the current pace we would end up with 40 attempted airfare hikes this year (we had 23 attempts in 2007).

Many airlines have a plethora of new “fee charges” which will help blunt some of the rising cost of fuel for the rest of the year — but all bets are off if oil “travels” through $160 a barrel and beyond.

Catch the 2008 Airfare Hike Timeline Here.

American and Continental Match $20 to $40 Airfare Hike

June 27, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 2 comments

The 20th attempted airfare hike this year is well on its way to sticking as both American and Continental joined United and Delta just after lunch today by matching across the bulk of their respective route systems — tacking on an additional $20 – $40 roundtrip.

Southwest Airlines was the original instigator of this airfare hike (at a much lower add-on amount of $10 – $20 roundtrip for travel starting 2-Nov) legacy airlines didnt let any grass grow under their feet as they quickly jumped on this rare opportunity to hike fares along with Southwest and onto their own route systems.

This leaves US Airways and Northwest, normally the slowest matchers on the sidelines — no doubt they will match by Monday morning.

American Airlines Matching Chart:

  • Shows the average cheapest roundtrip American price for departure each of the next 40 weeks for American Airlines between all combinations of AA Top 50 cities (to/from each other) and also on Southwest (WN) Top 50 Cities routes.
  • Average increase on Americans top routes $16 roundtrip
  • Average American increase on Southwest top routes $4 roundtrip
  • Averages are less than the increase most because of overlapping routes with Southwest are raised minimally or not at all
  • Large gap between the average cheapest roundtrip American prices on their top routes vs. Southwest top routes shows how Southwest drives the cheapest price point down

20th Attempted Airfare Increase of 2008

June 27, 2008 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 0 comments

It was a busy day yesterday for airlines as they continued their strategies to cut capacity and raise airfares in hopes these new elevated airline ticket prices will “stick”. The goal is to get just the right mix of capacity cuts and higher prices & fees to keep planes packed with higher paying passengers this fall and winter.

Late yesterday evening, after oil peaked over $140 a barrel during the day, both United and Delta followed Southwest Airlines’ lead earlier in the day by initiating the 20th attempted airfare increase of 2008 across the bulk of their respective route systems (closing in on the total of 23 attempts in all of 2007)

If matching had only occurred on the smaller number of Southwest city pairs hiked earlier in the day by $10 to $20 roundtrip for travel starting 2-Nov-08, we would not call the event an “official” airfare hike – our guidelines require one of the legacy airlines to hike on over 66% of its route system.

Delta and United have been the two main instigators of airfare increases this year (see the 2008 hike timeline) and they both couldn’t wait to jump in and extend the Southwest hike – initiating an increase for the first time in our tracking – within the same exact domestic U.S. airfare distribution (normally one initiates and then matching starts in subsequent airfare distributions).

United raised prices by $20 – $40 roundtrip and Delta by $20 – $30 roundtrip – and it is likely that one of the two will slightly readjust to stay competitive.

For legacy airlines — getting the right mix of capacity cuts and airfare increases within a $140 a barrel of oil environment is a grand experiment – and we are likely to see several adjustments in this experiment along the way (see my blog post on this experiment being like a game of egg-toss).

The chart above shows United’s average cheapest price for departing travel in the next 10 months on both United’s top routes and Southwest’s top routes — clearly showing United tiptoeing around Southwest on the increase and having much lower price points on the Southwest routes — also notice the large price difference for travel starting 2-Nov which coincides with the starting travel date for Southwest’s airfare hike.

Savvy travelers should start shopping now for holiday travel and lock in prices – airline ticket prices are not likely to come down much except for travel on off-peak days of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday).

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