Second Airfare Hike Attempt of the Year Ends in Failure

UPDATE #2 – Feb. 5: The airfare hike has failed. Delta Air Lines dropped out at 1 p.m. eastern and American Airlines will follow later today. [American withdrew from the hike at 4 p.m. eastern]

UPDATE #1 – Feb. 5: United Airlines is bailing on the hike (see update below); it’s likely more airlines will follow later today.

Original post:

Feb. 4, 2016: JetBlue got the ball rolling yesterday by raising prices $6 on a round-trip flight, and several carriers have since joined in on this second airfare hike of 2016. [see chart below] The first hike launched a month ago succeeded.

LISTEN: More insights from Rick.

Airfare Hike Timeline

Like last month’s, this is a broad-based fare increase affecting both business and leisure travelers. See which airlines joined in and when.

All times are U.S. eastern.

Feb. 3

  • 1 p.m. – JetBlue hikes fares $3 one-way
  • 4 p.m. – American matches the hike
  • 8 p.m. – American expands to more routes; Delta matches expansion

Feb. 4

  • 10 a.m. – United matches the hike
  • 8 p.m. – Delta pulls back slightly, removing about 15% of the routes from those hiked Feb. 3

Feb. 5

  • 10 a.m. – United is bailing out of the hike
  • 1 p.m. – Delta Air Lines also exits the hike
  • 4 p.m. – American withdraws from hike, which ends in failure.

Watch for updates.

What This Will Mean for Passengers

Why are airlines are raising fares? Because they can. They constantly probe the public’s appetite/demand for travel even as they continue attempts to maximize profits. For now, demand is good.

I don’t foresee droves of travelers canceling or rebooking their spring travel plans. That said, airline systems are like seismographs; if they detect tectonic shifts in bookings, prices will shift quickly across their route networks to make up for the discrepancy

Meanwhile, we are waiting to see if Southwest Airlines will join the hike; the carrier has been key to hike successes and failures over the past few years and may well factor into this one’s outcome.

Airfare Hike Fails
Airfare Hike Fails

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Updated: February 11, 2016