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‘Holiday Surcharges’ Get a Bump, But So What?

Airfare is always more expensive around the holidays. That, I think, is an indisputable fact. And so the mathematics of this season’s so-called holiday surcharges should surprise no one, nor should the recent increase of some of those surcharges from $10 to $20.

But “holiday surcharges”? Do those scary words even mean anything?

As someone who spends a fair amount of time thinking, reading, and writing about the airline business, I admit I’m a bit dismayed by what seems to be unnecessary hype and panic due to these surcharges. After all, the airlines are doing what they always do: Target high-volume days around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a handful of other holidays, and raise fares on those days. It’s your classic supply-and-demand pricing strategy. These surcharges simply allow the carriers to target specific routes and dates while leaving the overall base fare alone.

Of course, this distinction may not mean much to cash-strapped customers who still haven’t bought their tickets for Thanksgiving. But holiday travel is expensive (and stressful) enough without the specter of “holiday surcharges” hanging over our heads. Especially when airlines are still running sales for holiday travel and fares are generally holding steady.

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