But, as in all conflicts, there are casualties -- whether it's an airline taking a financial hit it can ill afford at this precarious time in our economy -- or the out-and-out death of a carrier.
It has happened. I'm thinking of two deaths in particular: one in Washington, D.C., and another in Hawaii. The victims: Independence Air and Aloha Airlines.
First, Independence: this saga began earlier in the decade when the old Atlantic Coast Airlines -- which operated feeder flights for United -- tired of the legacy carrier's shenanigans, and in 2004, morphed into a new, low-cost carrier based in D.C. called Independence Air.
Suddenly, Independence was in direct competition with United, but the new airline quickly found out that you don't poke a sleeping bear in the ribs, especially when it is in bankruptcy. United roared, and 18 months, $300 million in start-up capital, and 5,000 employees later, Independence gasped its last breath.
It should be noted that a few of the Independence jets were taken over by another upstart: Go! Airlines, based in Hawaii. Irony alert: Go! set its sights on becoming #1 in the islands and began waging a particularly vicious airfare war against both Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines -- airlines that accused Phoenix-based Mesa, the parent of Go!, of unfair competition.
This time, the upstart prevailed. Poor Aloha got the worst of it, thanks to low fares and the high price of oil, and last spring, 60-year-old Aloha succumbed to its wounds. Last we heard, Go! was thinking of changing its name -- to Aloha.
Ah, yes, war is hell. At least it is if you're one of the old lions that has to worry about young whippersnappers nipping at your heels. But, there's little you can do besides holding your nose, lowering your prices and hoping to heck that a combatant like Southwest will soon tire of the game.
Southwest? Tired of waging war? Get real. And get ready for deals -- in Orange County and soon New York -- or anywhere that catches the eye of an airline on a mission to wage airfare war.
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.