Holiday Surcharges Expand to 13 Days in 2009 and 2010


According to FareCompare.com's Rick Seaney, the $10 each-way holiday surcharge that caused such a ruckus two weeks ago has been expanded to 13 days during the holiday travel period, and also around spring break and Memorial Day. Airlines involved include American, Delta, US Airways, United, and Continental. Here are the dates:

  • November 29 and 30, 2009
  • December 19, 2009
  • December 26 and 27, 2009
  • January 2 and 3, 2010
  • March 14, 2010
  • March 20 and 21, 2010
  • March 28, 2010
  • April 11, 2010
  • May 28, 2010

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To me, the most eye-grabbing aspect of this expansion is the surcharge for travel in March and April, which suggests this method of fare hiking—backdoor surcharges instead of true fare increases—may become standard practice. And you have to admit: It makes decent business sense. By adding a surcharge, airlines can pinpoint specific high-volume travel dates but keep prices low otherwise.

The obvious (but apparently not important enough) counterpoint is that these surcharges target—some would say exploit—families heading home for the holidays. In the middle of a recession. It's bad PR and, depending on how bookings go, may prove to be bad business. Note that Southwest, JetBlue, AirTran, and Frontier are staying out of this mess. A wise choice, in my opinion, and worth paying attention to in the coming weeks.

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