This week, American, Delta, Northwest, and US Airways all withdrew new airfare fuel surcharge hikes, according to Reuters. Last week, American set off a wave of price increases when it raised the fuel surcharge on most of its domestic routes from $20 to $40 per round-trip ticket.
Travel experts interviewed by Reuters speculated that, with the recent unsteadiness of the U.S. economy, air travelers resisted paying increased fares, which forced the airlines to recall their surcharge hikes. This marks a change in consumer behavior through much of 2007, when demand for flights reached record numbers despite higher prices and diminished service.
While these recent price hikes failed, the airlines will likely look for other ways offset the high fuel prices that continue to increase operating costs. One expert quoted in the Reuters article, Terry Trippler of TripplerTravel.com, says he thinks the airlines will reduce the number of discounted seats to make up the difference. If that's the case, the fuel surcharge rollback will be nothing but a Pyrrhic victory for budget travelers.