Southwest's Airfare Hike Attempt for Short Haul Domestic Routes is a Success

UPDATE – 8-20-12: Airfare analyst Rick Seaney notes that “The latest Southwest hike is part of a new trend of targeted airfare increases, such as Delta’s recent hike which was aimed squarely at business travelers.” He added, “Both the Southwest and Delta hikes were added to less than 50% of the carrier’s respective routes and/or fares.” Seaney suggested this is ‘Plan B’ – the airlines’ alternative – to broader-based hikes which could meet greater resistance from passengers during the slower fall season and continuing economic problems. Seaney said targeted hikes will be included in FareCompare airfare charts with an asterisk, “in true Roger Maris fashion.”

Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney offers the lowdown on higher fares.

UPDATE – 4:24 p.m. EDT: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways have all matched the Southwest hike. It is now considered a success.

ORIGINAL POST – 4:01 p.m. EDT: Southwest Airlines has filed a $5 one-way domestic price hike on routes less than 500 miles – about 30 percent of their route system, this according to FareCompare co-founder and CEO Rick Seaney.

The last airfare hike, initiated July 31 by United Airlines, failed by Aug. 6.

“Typically we only document broad based domestic hikes,” Seaney said. “but this week’s unusual activity is noteworthy.”

On Monday night, Delta attempted their own airfare hike directed at business travelers – mainly “higher-priced tickets with short advance notice and more leg room.”

“The hike attempt languished after other airlines turned up their collective noses – now Southwest is testing the public and their competitors appetite for higher prices, albeit on short haul routes,” Seaney said.

This hike may take, noted Seaney.

“It is rare for any type of hike where Southwest participates to fail – rather the opposite is normally the case as many hikes fail due to their lack of participation. I expect other airlines to match relatively quickly as we head into the weekend.”

Check back with FareCompare as we monitor the airfare hike.



Published: August 17, 2012