U.S. Airlines Attempt Airfare Hikes amidst Ebola Fears and Dropping Oil Prices

There have been three airfare hike attempts in the past several days – with mixed results. What this tells us is:

  1. Ebola fears do not appear to be hurting demand for flights and the news about the end of the quarantine period for dozens of Texans with no new infections may continue to calm lingering fears
  2. Savings on jet fuel from recent oil price drops are not being passed along to passengers

See the very latest hike attempts in the updated chart

LISTEN: Rick Seaney has more details.

Three Airfare Hike Attempts

A timeline on the recent airline airfare raising activity. [See chart below]

HIKE #1 – Result: Failure (except for JetBlue)

  • Oct. 9: At 4 p.m. eastern, JetBlue hikes prices by up to $10 round-trip
  • Oct. 9: By 8 p.m., American and US Airways match the hikes, while Delta and United dabble in the matching activity
  • Oct. 10: At 4 p.m., Southwest matches
  • Oct. 10: At 8 p.m., Delta matches
  • Oct. 11: American and US Airways roll back prices
  • Oct. 12: Delta rolls back prices
  • Oct. 13: Southwest rolls back prices

HIKE #2 – Result: Failure

  • Oct. 14: United and Air Canada raise trans-border fares between U.S. and Canada by up to $6 round-trip
  • Oct. 15: Delta matches the high prices
  • Oct. 16: At 10 a.m., Delta rolls back prices
  • Oct. 16: At 4 p.m., United and Air Canada roll back prices

HIKE #3 – Result: Success

  • Oct. 16: Delta* hikes airfares up to $4 round-trip (in the vast majority of cases)
  • Oct. 17: At 4 p.m., Southwest matches
  • Oct. 17: At 8 p.m., American, US Airways and United match

*Note: While JetBlue did raise some fares four hours before Delta, Delta raised prices on far more (37 times as many fares). Given JetBlue’s small overlap and footprint compared to Delta’s, we’re calling Delta the major initiator. Even if Delta was ‘reacting’ to JetBlue’s hikes, it went far beyond that.

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Published: October 20, 2014