UPDATE: Feb. 16 – The third airfare hike of the year is ‘sticking’ and is now considered a success.
Feb. 15 – Today at 1 p.m. eastern time, Southwest Airlines initiated a system-wide domestic airfare hike of $10 roundtrip ($5 one-way).
Hike Raises Airfares $10 Round-trip
This is the third domestic fare increase attempt of 2012 – and the first since mid-January. Only one of the earlier attempts was successful (see the updated domestic airfare hike timeline below).
Earlier this week, there was also hike activity (again, $10 per round-trip) but it was limited to cities in Florida along with Las Vegas, Phoenix, Baltimore and Chicago. This latest increase attempt covers the rest of the Southwest route system except for short haul routes (under 500 miles) and the hotly contested Denver market.
Competing Airlines Expected to Match Airfare Hike
Competing airlines have two windows of time later today to begin matching the increases (at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. eastern time) and I expect domestic carriers will quickly match and even extend the hikes beyond the Southwest route network.
U.S. carriers continue to have difficulty pushing through fuel-related ticket increases on cost-conscious travelers. In the meantime, strong headwinds are on the horizon for airlines trying to recoup higher fuel costs as recent total fare disclosure requirements, transatlantic carbon offset ‘schemes’ and a wave of proposed air travel-related tax increases could stunt demand.
2011 Saw 22 Airfare Hike Attempts
In over six years, there has never been a Southwest-initiated hike that was not widely matched – and successful – but the reverse has not been the case as seen in the 22 domestic hike attempts of 2011 when 13 of those attempts were rolled back due to lack of support from competing carriers.
Keep checking back here for updates.