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American Launches Airfare Hike as United and Continental Introduce New Peak Travel Day Surcharges

December 28, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News | 0 comments

american hikes airfare while other airlines add peak travel day surcharges

UPDATE 3. – 12-29-10: As of this morning (Dec. 29), the $20 roundtrip airfare hike initiated by American Airlines on Monday has now been matched by United, Continental, Delta, US Airways and Alaska Airlines. Carriers that have so far NOT joined in the airfare hike include AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest.

UPDATE 2. – 12-28-10: This afternoon (Dec. 28), US Airways also matched the American-initated airfare hike of Dec. 27.

UPDATE 1. - 12-28-10: This morning (Dec. 28), both United Airlines and Continental Airlines matched Monday’s $20 roundtrip airfare hike initiated by American Airlines. We’ll continue to monitor the 1pm and 8pm feeds to see if US Airways matches. Southwest meanwhile, appears to be sitting this hike out – at least for now.

EARLIER: 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.

New Surcharges: On Monday morning (Dec. 27), both United and Continental added a new $10 one-way “peak travel day” airline surcharge to the majority of their domestic routes ($20 roundtrip). These surcharges have been added to all future travel dates, and are incorporated into the price of the ticket.

Airfare Hike: At midday on Monday (Dec. 27), American Airlines initiated a $20 roundtrip airfare hike for the bulk of its domestic route system; this hike was soon matched by Delta Air Lines. This the second airfare hike launched by American this month.

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.

Watch this space; we’ll update as warranted.

Rare Domestic Airfare Hike for 2010 – $10 Price Increase

December 15, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News | 0 comments

airfare hike update legacy airlines match united hike

Two days ago (Dec. 13), American Airlines initiated a domestic airfare hike of $5 one-way for flights over 500 miles ($10 roundtrip) and a $3 one-way hike for shorter flights ($6 roundtrip); these hikes were added to the bulk of the carrier’s route system.

By the next day, both legacy network airlines and the low cost carriers matched the hike including Alaska, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin America – virtually guaranteeing this to be one of the few successful hike attempts of the year.

Domestic airlines have struggled to raise base airfare prices this year, but numerous tries have crumbled due to lack of unanimous participation; and, regardless of the gradually improving economy, airlines continue to live by their recessionary domestic pricing motto of not being a dollar more or less than the competition.

This doesn’t mean that consumers haven’t been paying more for tickets this year.

Domestic airlines have resorted a handful of strategies to lift ticket prices this past year by specifically targeting high demand periods with peak travel surcharges of up to $30 one-way, and by selling fewer discounted seats (yielding up especially this summer) while keeping their planes completely full (maintaining capacity discipline).  These techniques, combined with the continued prominence of airline fees, have been the fuel for recent financial successes.

With oil prices hovering near 2010 highs of $90/barrel and recent positive statements from airline executives regarding winter demand, my prediction is that we will likely see more domestic hike attempts as we head into 2011.

Airlines’ New Year’s Resolutions – Tell Me What You Think

December 14, 2010 | Posted in: ABC Column,Holiday Travel,Travel Tips | 0 comments

Coming up later this month, I’ll be doing one of my weekly air travel columns for ABCNews.com on this topic: New Year’s Resolutions for the Airlines.

This is going to be fun since I’ve got a lot of ideas – but – I’d love to hear yours as well. Please share on Facebook.

Feel free to be creative though serious replies are certainly welcome. Some ideas to get you started:

Should the airlines resolve to…

  • Drop all bag fees?
  • Institute Happy Hours with free drinks on flights?
  • Allow cute pets to roam free in the aisles?
  • Lower those irritating “change fees”?

Maybe a look at the FareCompare Domestic Airline Fee Chart will give you some more ideas, or just let your imagination run wild. I’ll use the best ones in my upcoming column so please stay tuned.

US Airways Flight Diverted After Dog Bites Passenger, Crew

December 8, 2010 | Posted in: Pets,Tips and Tricks,US Airways | 0 comments

dog bite dulles airport

Did you hear the story about the dog with “jet rage”? It kind of reminded me of that angry JetBlue flight attendant who cursed out passengers and eventually left the aircraft via the emergency slide. But at least he didn’t bite anyone.

Mandy, a 12 pound Manchester terrier did bite. She bit a passenger and crew member and ran up and down the aisle of a US Airway Newark to Phoenix flight, barking all the way. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh (a precautionary measure – no one was badly hurt).

What happened? Mandy’s owner – an 89-year old woman from New Jersey – let Mandy out of her cage.

Big mistake. You are not allowed to let an animal out of its cage on a plane. Little Mandy showed us why!

That’s just one of things you’ll learn in my new article called “Pet Travel Tips for the Holidays“. It’s handy if you’re bringing Sparky home for Christmas, and it’s handy anytime you want to travel with your best friend. There’s a fun video in the article too featuring yours truly and a Basset hound named Clementine.

A note of caution: as I point out in the article, not all animals are good travelers, and some cats and dogs might be better left at home. Like Mandy.

Cheap Flight Tips in the Fee Era: Rick Seaney on ABC’s Nightline

December 4, 2010 | Posted in: ABC Column,Airline News,Multimedia,Tips and Tricks | 0 comments

Did you catch my appearance on ABC’s Nightline last night?

I provided the analysis for Ryan Owens’ report, “Breakin’ the Bank to Fly” (also featured: Steven Slater, the one-time angry, fed-up flight attendant).

As I noted, in general airline fees target “unloyal” families of four (non-miles program members), but see for yourself in this very entertaining video – then check out my tips to avoid airline fees, below:

However, you can still avoid the worst of the fees by following these simple tips:

Five Ways to Avoid Airline Fees for Cheaper Flights

1. Check a Bag: Use a carryon and avoid the roundtrip bag fees of up to $50 per bag

2. Fly a Free Bag Airline: Both JetBlue and Southwest will give you free checked-bags and the FareCompare Domestic Airline Fee Chart will show you what others charge

3. Don’t Book until Trip Dates are Firm: This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many try to change flight dates after purchase only to learn about the $150 “change fee”

4. Bring Your Own Food and Entertainment: There are no more free meals in coach, plus a lot of airlines charge for snacks and WiFi; brown bag it, and don’t forget your book (or Kindle or iPad)

5. Fly Nonstops: If you’re stuck in a middle seat because you didn’t pay the “seat selection” fee, it’s a lot easier to endure cramped conditions on one flight instead of two

Virgin America Arrives at DFW with the Surprising Richard Branson

December 3, 2010 | Posted in: ABC Column,Airline News,Multimedia | 0 comments

I guess you could say an airfare war has broken out in Dallas-Ft. Worth, thanks to Virgin America’s entry into the market. It’s taking on American Airways, and the result (at least so far) is lower airfares in the Los Angeles – DFW market.

I totally enjoyed my ride on VA’s inaugural flight - but even better was talking to Richard Branson, the billionaire behind the Virgin brand. The guy is funny too; here’s his hilarious take on the new “enhancements” at airport security, like the vigorous patdown I underwent recently:

Be sure to look at some of the edgier videos made by FareCompare’s Mike Federico – he was along for the ride, too and had some fun with a video camera.

 And tell me via Facebook: will you try Virgin America? Or if you have, what do you think?

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