Southwest Hikes Fares, Others Match

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Southwest Airlines has hiked base fares by $5 each way, according to the Associated Press (AP). This is the latest hike in what has become a year-long trend toward more expensive travel.

According to the AP, Southwest said the fare hike was meant to combat rising fuel costs, and this has been the common refrain with each new hike. Fuel prices have been trending upward, due largely to rising demand, though unrest in major oil-producing countries hasn't helped.

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So it's not surprising that that other airlines have already matched Southwest's hike. The Sacramento Business Journal reports American, AirTran, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, United, and US Airways have all joined in.

It's starting to look like fuel costs will be the big story as 2011 takes shape. Prices keep rising, and airlines keep tacking on surcharges and raising fares. Fuel costs are up 42 percent compared to a year ago, and have been climbing by about 5 percent each month so far this year. All told, the International Air Transport Association estimates airlines' fuel bills could spike by $30 billion this year.

Readers, have you noticed higher fares in your searches lately?

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