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Southwest and JetBlue hike fares

It had to happen eventually, right? The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports today that low-cost carrier Southwest, caving to high fuel prices, has raised fares on most of its routes. Southwest last raised its prices in September 2005.

If there is a silver lining, it’s this: The fare increase amounts to just $3 each way for flights 750 miles or longer, and less for shorter routes. The good news ends there, because it’s never a good thing when a fare trendsetter like Southwest ups its prices. Expect the airline’s competition to quickly—and gleefully—rush to match the hikes. The news is bad for travelers on a second low-fare front as well. Last week, JetBlue quietly raised its prices by $5 each way.

This doesn’t mean you can’t still find a good bargain, though. Southwest says it will continue to cap its one-way flights at $299, meaning it’s the cheaper off-peak flight times that will be most affected.

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