UPDATE 2: As of Feb. 19, Rick Seaney declared the hike a success. The amount of the hike is up to $4 per round-trip.
UPDATE 1: “At the moment, it appears the hike is sticking,” said Rick Seaney on Feb. 17, but added it’s still too soon to call it a definitive success. See the updated timeline below.
Original post published Feb. 13:
The first airfare hike of 2015 is now underway, according to airfare analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney. Delta Air Lines began raising prices in significant numbers yesterday (Feb. 12) at 1 p.m. eastern time.
Delta Launches Airfare Hike
Since then, American Airlines and US Airways have joined in on the price-raising effort. To be sure, most of the hikes are on the small side, averaging only a few dollars per round-trip flight but it’s a broad-based hike aimed at business and leisure travelers alike. [See airfare hike chart for 2014 below].
Why Airlines are Raising Fares
Why now? Seaney says it’s part of the airlines’ ongoing probing process to see if demand is strong enough to accept higher-priced airline tickets. “Given the backdrop of dramatically lower fuel prices, one would expect the potential for a drop in ticket prices,” said Seaney, “But that’s not the case. In fact, what this latest hike attempt shows is that demand must be pretty darn good.”
Airfare Hike Timeline
Timeline includes updated information added Feb. 17
Thursday, Feb. 12
- 1 p.m. ET: Delta hikes prices on 400,000 domestic fares
- 4 p.m. ET: American/US Airways join in and pile on hikes to more fares
- 8 p.m. ET: Air Canada jumps in, along with United and JetBlue, while American/US Airways increase its activity
Friday, Feb. 13
- 10 a.m. ET: Minimal activity from Southwest
- 4 p.m. ET: A smattering of rollback by American
- 8 p.m. ET: Both Air Canada and United rollback some higher prices
Saturday, Feb. 14
- 5 p.m. ET: A smattering of price adjustments by most airlines
Sunday, Feb. 15
- 5 p.m. ET: Minor activity only
Monday, Feb. 16
- 4 p.m. ET: Minor rollback activity by Air Canada
Tuesday, Feb. 17
- 10 a.m. ET: Hike appears to be sticking with minor rollback activity
What This Means for Airfare Shoppers
Back to the original post published Feb. 13
Participation by the big four airlines* so far is mixed. United has yet to join in, and as noted earlier, there has so far been only minimal activity by Southwest. As Seaney put it, “Without United, the success or failure of the hike is still in a state of flux but it will be interesting to see if any hike can stick without meaningful participation by Southwest.”
*Big Four: American, Delta, Southwest and United which account for nearly 80 percent of domestic traffic.
Airfare Hike Charts for 2015 and 2014