Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surcharges extended; U.S. Airways adds more.

As you know, about ten weeks ago, all of the legacy airlines announced that they would be adding surcharges -- essentially, fare increases -- to a few "peak" travel days between now and the end of the year.

In the past week, those same airlines have one by one opted to extend the surcharges to peak travel days as far out as May 2010, and increase them to $30 each way.

I talked about the merits of these surcharges when they first debuted, and my position hasn't changed: they are simple fare increases, not fees, and it is entirely reasonable that airlines will raise their prices when they are literally losing hundreds of millions of dollars every quarter.

What separates reasonable from unreasonable? Timing.

The surcharges were first added and now extended based on observed travel conditions and current bookings. That's understandable.

In typical fashion, U.S. Airways has gone one farther than its peers, adding a 5% surcharge on all flights on or after May 8, 2010. U.S. Airways made this move "because fuel prices could increase by then."

In other words, U.S. Airways is imposing a de facto fuel surcharge in advance of any fuel price increases. That is not reasonable -- and it is precisely why so many of us choose to fly with other airlines.

No comments: