The Year's Airfare Hikes – What They Cost You (So Far)

So far this year, various airlines have launched 14 separate airfare hike attempts, and seven have been successful. For most airline passengers, this has meant higher ticket prices.

Listen: Airfare analyst Rick Seaney on why airlines keep doing this to us.

How to Save on 'Mistake' Airfares

Average Domestic Prices Rise 4.5%

How much more travelers will pay for airfare depends on a variety of factors, but especially where passengers are flying to and from, and when. According to airfare expert Rick Seaney, "By our calculations, all the airfare increases for 2012 add up to an overall domestic airfare increase of approximately 4.5 percent," but he added, "Averages are not my favorite statistic as any on given route the increases can vary dramatically based on competition and traveler flexibility." Indeed, the year's successful airfare hikes have varied in price from $2 to $10 round-trip depending on the route and depending on the day of the week flown.

'Free Bags' Southwest Still Made Millions on Fees

Southwest Launched Most Successful Hikes

Interestingly, Southwest – usually described as a low-cost carrier – has had the most success in raising airline ticket prices. It launched four of the year's hikes that stuck (one in concert with JetBlue) and was responsible for resurrecting the most recent hike initiated by United, which appeared to be all but dead until Southwest entered the fray and revived it.

Airlines in Trouble

More Airfare Hikes on the Way?

At the moment, it's impossible to say if 2012 will see more airfare hikes, but don't bet against it – not if history is any guide. In 2011, there were 22 airfare hike attempts and nine of them were successful. More price increases may be on the way, and FareCompare will report on any hike attempts as they happen.

Anne McDermott
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