That's because airlines don't launch hikes just to make money. Sure, that's the main reason, but it's also a very simple strategy to gauge passenger appetite for hikes. Appetite - makes it sound like someone salivating over a sundae - so maybe I should use the word acceptance instead. Either way, it means the willingness to pay a high price if required. Appetite/acceptance is easy enough for an airline to judge after a hike: either bookings continue as normal or a significant number of people quit buying tickets. When the latter happens, watch hikes disappear.
Passengers have real power over the air travel industry by the mere act of staying home (or getting behind the wheel). Airlines don't make money if you don't fly so let them know how you feel with your wallet. And just so you know, I am not anti-airline; I think most of them do a very good job in an extremely difficult sector made ever more crazy thanks to the constantly see-sawing price of oil.
Running an airline can be a lousy business, whether because of belligerent bees or budget-busting price hikes. But hang on, passengers - cheaper days are coming.
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.