Airfare Hikes of 2016

Updated Sept. 27, 2016: Airlines attempted to raise ticket prices five times in 2015 which may seem like a lot but not compared to this year. So far this year, FareCompare has detected 14 broad increases, with 4 successful hikes. Here is the a quick overview of the 2016 Airfare Hikes

Airfare Hike – September 2016

The FareCompare team has detected the 14th airfare hike for 2016, and the second increase of 2016 by United Airlines.  The $2-7 incremental cost for one-way flights filed by the airline can be seen across the majority of their routes, especially for flights out of their U.S. hubs, including San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Chicago and Newark.  Over the weekend, the increase did not stick, and most fares have been rolled back

  • September 21 – United Airlines initiates a systemwide fare increase, ranging from $2-7 . This includes fares for domestic and international flights across all classes of service.
  • September 22Delta and American Airlines appear to match the broad fare increase.
  • September 23 – As of 1 p.m. ET, the airfare hike seems to hold.
  • September 24 – Airlines begin to roll back most fare increases.  The airfare hike fails.

Airfare Hikes – June/July 2016

  • July 27 – United initiates a small hike ($4-8 RT) which gains traction in August and is declared a success.
  • July 11 – Delta initiates a small hike ($4-8 RT) but it does not succeed.
  • June 6 – JetBlue initiates a small hike ($4-8 RT) that it holds to though other carriers did not match.

Airfare Hike – May 2016

  • May 26 – Delta’s $4-14 RT hike fails
  • May 11 – JetBlue succeeds with a $4-8 RT fair hike
  • May 5 – Delta’s $4-14 RT hike fails

Airfare Hike -March/April 2016

  • April 26 – Separate hike attempts are launched by a handful of different airlines for domestic routes as well as U.S./Canada flights, but most end in failure.
  • March 2 – An American-launched hike later joined by Delta and United, ends in failure.

Airfare Hikes – February 2016

  • February 19 – Southwest launches successful hike of $4-14 RT
  • February 17 – Delta launches hike that ends in failure.
  • February 10 – JetBlue launches another failed attempt.
  • February 3 – JetBlue launches hike that ends in failure.

Airfare Hike – January 2016

What the Hikes Mean and Who Will Pay

Who will pay: Most of the increased airfare will be borne by business travelers, those who procrastinate on shopping for airfare, people who live in smaller cities and/or less competitive markets.

The good news: Hikes were not detected on hotly-contested routes nor on some sale fares which typically target midweek flights.

Why are airlines raising fares: Airline investors expect carriers to squeeze as many nickels per square millimeter on aircraft as possible. At the moment, it appears the economic winds (plus steady demand for travel) are keeping those sails inflated, at least domestically.

2016 U.S. Airlines Airfare Hike Timeline

Attempt Date Initiating Carrier Status Roun$ Oil$/Barrel
1 January 4 Delta Failed $4-14 $37
2 February 3 JetBlue Failed $4-8 $32
3 February 10 JetBlue Failed $4-8 $28
4 February 17 Delta Failed $4-8 $31
5 February 19 Southwest Success $4-14 $30
6 March 2 American Failed $4-8 $35 Incl Mex/Car
7 April 26 Delta Failed  $4-14 $46 Multiple attempts failed
8 May 5 Delta Failed $4-14 $49
9 May 11 JetBlue Success $4-8 $50 Small increases
10 May 26 Delta Failed $4-14 $49
 11  June 6 JetBlue  Failed  $4-8 $50
 12  July 11 Delta Failed $4-8 $45
 13 July 27 United Success  $4-8 $42
 14 September 21 United Failed  $4-14 $44

For more details check out our Airfare Hike Section of the blog.

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Updated: September 27, 2016