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Major Airlines Hike Fares, but Will it Stick?

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Air: Man Holding Back of Flying Airplane (Photo: iStockphoto/Shelly Perry)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 26, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Christine Sarkis.

There's the good news and the bad news.

The good news is that, in a year characterized by about 20 attempted fare hikes, only about half of the price boosts have stuck, according to the Associated Press. And lately, prices have remained reassuringly steady.

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And now, the bad news: This week has brought not one, but two fare hikes from major U.S. carriers. Happy holidays!

So far, the latest hike of about $5 each way on many domestic flights has been embraced by Continental, Delta, and United. And Bloomberg Businessweek reports that, industrywide, fares are already up to $70 higher than they were this time last year.

One of the most common indicators of whether a fare hike will stick or be rolled back is whether it's adopted across the airline industry. And at least in this case, that might be the saving grace, as some analysts think Southwest won't join the crowd, thereby forcing the legacy lines to give up on this latest attempt.

So what's a traveler to do? George Hobica, the resident airfare expert at our sister site Airfarewatchdog, has a hunch that holiday airfare prices can't get much higher, so they might just get lower for the upcoming season.

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