15th Domestic Airfare Hike of 2012 has Failed

FINAL UPDATE 6:20 p.m. EST: The 15th airfare hike attempt of the year has failed; US Airways which launched the hike on Sat. has now has rolled back its prices.

UPDATE: 2 p.m. EST: Due to the huge volume of airfare data coming in, new information on a couple of hikes is now becoming clearer and the situation has changed from what I reported earlier [see specific details of how and when the hike attempts played out, below].

The 15th airfare hike of the year was actually launched Saturday by US Airways. This is a hefty, broad-based hike of $10 each way, and so far, other airlines are not joining in – which does not bode well for its ultimate success.

Earlier, there was a flurry of hiking activity on certain routes to and from select Florida destinations – a mini-hike, if you will – which was joined in by Southwest on Friday. That sealed its success but as it is a regional hike only, we are not counting it as one of the year's official hikes.

Meanwhile, we will update the US Airways hike attempt as more information becomes available but again at the moment it appears destined for failure.

UPDATE 10:52 a.m. EST: After trawling through the data, it appears Southwest's hike focused on Florida destinations and the matching on Saturday by legacy airlines was a reaction to that particular increase. However, as of Sunday evening, US Airways appeared to be broadening the scope of the hike.

Monday, Dec. 3 – 9:45 a.m. EST: On Friday evening, Southwest Airlines raised airfare prices across the bulk of its domestic route system.

Hike Expected to Succeed

Over the weekend, US Airways begin matching on overlapping routes, but the other big legacy carriers including American, Delta and United are what I call tip-toeing around at the moment, most likely because the hike occurred just before the weekend. I expect to see more matching activity from these larger airlines, and I also expect the hike to stick.

What Airfare Hikes Cost Passengers

The seven successful airfare hikes so far this year have put a dent in passenger wallets, hiking fares on average by about 4.5%. It's been a while since the last hike, which was launched by United back in October and was ultimately successful. Before that, we've seen airfare hikes every month since July.

Details of the Airfare Hike Attempts

UPDATE Dec. 3 – 3:45 p.m. EST: Over the past several days, hiking activity on both the regional Florida hike attempt and the ongoing broad-based US Airways hike looked like this:

  • 29-Nov 16:00 – United: increases fares in regional Florida hike attempt
  • 30-Nov 10:00 – US Airways begins matching Florida increase
  • 30-Nov 16:00 – Delta begins matching Florida increase
  • 30-Nov 20:00 – Southwest/AirTran begins matching Florida increase
  • 01-Dec 17:00 – American, Delta, Frontier begin/continue matching Florida increase
  • 01-Dec 17:00 – US Airways starts the 15th domestic airfare hike of 2012 ($10 each-way)
  • 02-Dec 17:00 – Delta, Southwest/AirTran continue to match Florida increase
  • 02-Dec 17:00 – US Airways expands 15th domestic airfare hike (on pricier business fares)
  • 03-Dec 10:00 – Delta, United continue to match/extend Florida increase
  • 03-Dec 13:00 – US Airways updates Florida increase to include discounted first class fares



Rick Seaney
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