This grand experiment is all about how far an airline can push its passengers -- by raising ticket prices for overcrowded planes -- before the passengers finally say, "Enough." The airlines don't have a lot of background for this. They haven't faced problems like this since the recession of the early 1990s and the aftermath of 9/11 -- but they're learning.
And one thing they're learning is that passengers are now starting to push back. Yes, after 33 attempted airfare hikes since the summer of 2007 -- most of them successful, not to mention all the inconvenience of long security lines, fees and surcharges -- more passengers are saying, "Enough."
And the airlines are hearing them. And showing them "love": In the guise of an airfare sale.
No airfare sale lasts forever and I have no doubt prices will rise again. But at least the sales will last long enough so a few more families will be spending this holiday season the way it was meant to be spent ... together.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.