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Holiday Travel Fee – Under Guise of Flight Airfare Surcharge?

September 25, 2009 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News,Fuel Surcharges,United

UPDATE: Others have now joined in the matching, including Delta, Northwest, and US Airways.

UPDATE: The surcharge is coded with ‘Q’ which is “Miscellaneous/Other”, ‘F’ is Fuel Surcharge

??

Now here’s something I’ve not seen before…

On Wednesday, American Airlines added a $10 “fuelmiscellaneous surcharge” to the vast majority of its fares – but only for travel on three very specific days: the Sunday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29) and Jan. 2 and 3. United Airlines followed suit.

You’ll note that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the two busiest travel days of the year (the other is the Wednesday before the holiday) — and of course, Jan. 2 and 3 are also quite popular.

So it’s not so much a surcharge as a quick way to upcharge for those premium days. Yes, it brings in a lot of sorely needed revenue to the airlines – but to the detriment of holiday travelers, who are already paying stiff fares for those high-traffic days.

The surcharge is a rule category associated with a given airfare and is added on to the base fare and taxed (the actual surcharge is $9.30 + the 7.5% tax, equaling to $10). When you look at online price quotes it will be baked into based price of the airfare (not something charged separately like pre-paid checked bag fees).

Some of you may remember that, last year, procrastinators were rewarded with lower fares during the holiday period, but I do not expect that to happen this year (please see our “Holiday Travel 2009: Guide for Buying Cheap Holiday Flights” and “Holiday Travel – Seat Cutbacks for Thanksgiving 2009“).

When will this “new airline surcharge” crop up next? Maybe during next summer’s busy vacation season? We shall see…

3 Responses to “Holiday Travel Fee – Under Guise of Flight Airfare Surcharge?”

  1. [...] decided that you don’t pay enough to travel on the peak holiday travel days, so they’ve added a $10 surcharge. Is this a new fee? Nah, I think it’s just the lazy man’s fare [...]

  2. Elliot Campbell says:

    I’ve never seen the “fuel surcharge” as actually about recouping actual fuel costs as about the airlines taking in more revenue, and having it slightly more palatable to consumers by blaming the cost of fuel.

    If it was actually about recouping fuel costs, explain how, at least in the past, domestic fuel charges differed on the same airline and same route if you bought a ticket 2 weeks in advance vs. as walk up. Since the amount of fuel used doesn’t differ based on the time in advance you buy a ticket, something has to be wrong here. Or, how come AC, when they had fuel surcharges within North America, had charged more for a fuel surcharge for a New York-Toronto round-trip compared to a Vancouver-Toronto round-trip, despite the latter flight being over 4 times the length.

    I really don’t think there was ever a time when the fuel surcharge was actually related to the cost of fuel. I feel that if they call it such, carriers should be forced to prove to regulators that yes, these charges do relate to what the carrier says it does.

  3. Bara says:

    The fuel surcharge should be included in the airfare, it obviously has nothing to do with fuel prices any more.

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