Southwest hikes fares, others follow

Southwest is at it again. The Dallas-based low-cost carrier skipped a recent round of fare increases, but is now adding a dollar or two to the cost of each ticket, depending on miles flown.

According to Reuters, the price boost affects about 25 percent of Southwest's network, and will be $1 for short flights (under 250 miles) and $2 for flights between 250 and 750 miles.

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In this case, American and other airlines have matched Southwest in "overlap markets." It seems likely that this price hike will be more or less permanent, says FareCompare fare analyst Neil Bainton. Bainton points out that previous fare increases haven't stuck because Southwest didn't go along with them. It seems as if the big airlines try to goad Southwest into raising its fares, only to fold when the low-cost leader calls their bluff. In this case, however, Southwest is leading the charge.

It's great that Southwest is an industry leader. I just wish it led in something other than fare increases.

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