The next airlines to go?

The trifecta of airlines (Aloha, ATA, and Skybus) that went bankrupt and ceased operations last week may soon have extra company.

Scott McCartney, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has instituted a "death watch" of sorts in his latest column, highlighting Alitalia, Frontier, ExpressJet, and SunCountry as airlines in peril. The culprits? The same woes you've heard about all year—high fuel prices, costly overhead, and intense competition from rival airlines. If you have a ticket on any of these lines, you may want to consider making alternate arrangements.

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"Passenger carriers are no longer required to honor tickets of failed competitors because Congress let a government protection for travelers expire in 2006," says McCartney. So unlike in previous years, ticketholders on the three failed airlines found themselves having to pay up or be stuck. Some Hawaii travelers had to pay an additional $900 for a return flight on a different airline, according to McCartney—with no refunds, credit, or other recourse from the failed airline or other carriers. Check to see how much tickets on a different airline would cost you, as well as any potential cancellation fees you would incur—it may actually cost less than what you'd have to pay if your airline goes under.

Even if you're not traveling on one of McCartney's black-marked airlines, you'll still feel the fallout from these bankruptcies. McCartney posits travelers will be seeing higher ticket prices across the board, especially on affected routes such as to/from Hawaii.

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