Unusual New Airfare Hike Brewing

UPDATE #4 – April 30: It appears the Canadian portion of the airfare hike has ‘stuck’ while it’s still a mixed bag on the Alaska/Hawaii increases.

UPDATE #3 – April 29, 11 a.m. EDT: Airfare analyst Rick Seaney said there was no movement on the hike over the weekend, with no activity in either direction.

UPDATE #2 – April 26, 1 p.m. EDT: United is rolling back its increase on smaller cities, plus Alaska and Hawaii – leaving just its Canada increase in place.

UPDATE #1 – April 26, 10 a.m. EDT: Last night, American Airlines matched the Canadian portion of the airfare hike, while US Airways matched the Hawaii and Alaska increases.


Yesterday at 10 a.m. EDT (April 24), United Airlines began tinkering with increases mainly on flights from the mainland to Alaska and Hawaii. Then, at 1 p.m., American Airlines matched those increases and later still, United piled on increases in more markets, mostly on routes touching on smaller cities but also a few hub routes like Denver – Washington, D.C.

Hikes on Scattered Routes Up to $10

Then this morning (April 25), Hawaiian jumped on the Hawaii portion of the increases, followed by WestJet adding a Canadian border increase. Finally, at 4 p.m. EDT, United and its codeshare partner Air Canada jumped on the WestJet increase. The dollar amount of these hikes ranges up to $10 round-trip (see 2013 hike activity in the chart below).

Some appears to me to be related, albeit belatedly, to Delta’s failed hike attempt of earlier in the week – but none of these latest moves rise to the level of an across-the-board hike.

Airlines Try Plan B to Raise Revenue

My take on this: It has been tough for airlines to raise prices across the board this year and certainly the sequester is providing more headwind for this urge to hike, so the airlines are going with Plan B: targeting more expensive routes such as those to Hawaii and Alaska as well as trans-Canadian border flights. That, and boosting change fees as we saw United and US Airways do recently.

I’ll provide updates as soon as they’re available.



Published: April 25, 2013