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Expect airfare prices to go up ... way up

The pinch of paying at the pump is affecting a whole different travel sector. Airfare travelers already feeling the crunch of high fares (to offset fuel prices) are about to be hit even more: The Associated Press reports domestic airlines anticipate raising fares by 15 to 20 percent just to break even.

According to Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta, it's all because of the exorbitant cost of jet fuel. Doug Steenland, the CEO of Northwest (currently in merger negotiations with Delta), says other cost-cutting measures, such as baggage fees, charging for meals, and the like, have all been tapped out. What's left? More expensive tickets, cutting flights, and layoffs. And it's no wonder the suggested hikes are so steep, given that Delta and Northwest have posted a staggering $10.5 billion in combined losses for the first quarter this year.

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The article notes airlines have increased fares nine times since late December, and I'm sure we'll see continually rising prices as summer travel picks up and fuel prices rise. In the meantime, if you're planning to fly in the near future, it's more important than ever to compare fares, exercise flexibility, and maybe even consider alternate modes of transportation (like a road trip).

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