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American Hikes Fares, Other Airlines Match

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It’s nearly Christmas, and you know what that means: Time for the airlines to spit in your egg nog.

American Airlines initiated an across-the-board fare hike yesterday, tacking $5 onto flights longer than 500 miles, and $3 onto flights less than 500 miles. USA Today‘s Roger Yu says most of American’s competitors have matched, including Continental, Delta, United, US Airways, Virgin America, Alaska, Frontier and Southwest.

If the hike sticks, which seems likely, it will be the first industry-wide, across-the-board fare hike in a long while, FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney tells Yu. The fact that multiple airlines have matched “virtually guarantee(s) this to be one of the few successful hike attempts this year,” Seaney says.

Even without formal fare hikes, prices have been steadily rising throughout the year. Yu writes, “Despite no uniform fare increases, consumers have been paying more for tickets this year. Airlines have employed other strategies to raise prices, such as adding surcharges of up to $30 one way for high-demand periods and selling fewer discounted seats. They’ve also kept their planes full by being careful about adding seats only on profitable routes.”

Now, with air travel in the midst of a healthy rebound, airlines appear inclined to nudge base fares upward, too. With planes flying full thanks to capacity cuts implemented during the recession, airlines seem to be salivating at the thought of jacked-up fares and the big-time profits that would follow.

Readers, do you feel fares are considerably more expensive than a year ago?

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