Holiday Airfare Increase Takes Off

ABC News’ Matt Hosford reports:

Bad news for holiday fliers: it looks like the fares up there are set to take off.

According to CEO Rick Seaney, as of noon today, Delta, United, American, US Airways, Jet Blue, Southwest and AirTran have all raised fares by $4 to $10 roundtrip.

Fare hikes in October and November are relatively rare, Seaney told ABC News in an email interview, but he says demand for air travel may be driving the increase.

“This is not very common, we have not seen domestic hike attempts in October or November since 2007 when oil prices were skyrocketing ahead of the recession in 2009,” said Seaney.

He added, “airlines tend to probe both consumers and other airlines’ appetites for higher ticket prices when they feel demand is relatively strong, demand seems to belying the daily sour economic headlines.”

Earlier this month in a blog posting on his website,, Seaney noted that airfare for travel over the Thanksgiving holiday could be up as much as 20 percent in some cases compared with last year.

Not all fare increases stick. Seaney has tracked 17 attempts by airlines to raise fares this year, but only eight were successful.

The fee increases come as airlines are releasing their quarterly earnings.  Today American Airlines announced it lost $162 million in the 3rd quarter.

In a letter to employees, the airline’s CEO, Gerald Arpey, pinned the loss on the increased price of fuel as compared with last year. “…the biggest difference is the price of fuel, as we paid $653 million more for jet fuel during the third quarter than we would have at last year’s prices,” said Arpey.

He added, “We now expect to pay $1.9 billion more for fuel this year than we did last year.”

Whether this new air fare increase sticks or not, Seaney says the takeaway for consumers is simple: don’t wait to buy your tickets.

“There are really no holiday deals,” he says. “You are going to pay a premium — it is all about getting a better bad deal, which means you should not procrastinate. ”

Seaney offers the following tips to help you get the best deal on your ticket:

-shop and buy now for Thanksgiving

-You have until early November for year-end holiday purchases

-Avoid the busiest and most expensive days – Wed before and Sun/Mon after Thanksgiving and the Mondays after Christmas and New Years


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