Back-to-Back Domestic Airfare Hikes

Here we go again:

At 1 p.m. EDT Monday (Oct. 24), United/Continental initiated the 18th attempted domestic airfare hike of 2011 by increasing airfares from $4 to $10 round-trip across the bulk of its U.S. route system.

New Airfare Hike is Matched by Legacy Airlines

Just three hours later, Delta matched the new airfare prices, and by 8 p.m. EDT, the remaining legacy carriers – American and US Airways – also joined in, as did Alaska Airlines.

Carriers that have not yet jumped on this particular price hike are the so-called discount airlines (also known as low-cost carriers): Southwest/AirTran, JetBlue and Frontier.

Listen as I talk to Editor Anne McDermott about why she should have booked her flights by now.

Out of the year’s 18 domestic airfare hike attempts, nine have been successful including a hike launched just last week. in all, these hikes have raised domestic plane ticket prices as much as $80 round-trip since the beginning of the year.

The fact that airlines would green-light higher ticket prices in this typically soft travel period underscores their comfort level with passenger demand coupled with consistent seat cutbacks over the past few years.

Follow these 5 tips to save on Thanksgiving flights

What the Airfare Hike Means for Holiday Travelers

For procrastinating holiday travelers, the message should be loud and clear: lock in travel plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas as soon as possible. Do not expect last-minute bargains as the airlines see no reason to discount briskly selling seats.

Final note: Historically, airfare hike attempts have collapsed when low cost airlines failed to participate, so it will be interesting to see if the legacy airlines can maintain this latest hike attempt without dragging along both Southwest and JetBlue.

We will update the latest on the hike as significant changes occur.

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Published: October 24, 2011