United, Air Canada Raise Ticket Prices – 11th Hike Attempt of Year Succeeds

UPDATE #3 – Sept. 12: Rick Seaney calls this latest airfare hike a success. As far as hikes in general, Seaney said the news is mixed: "The good news is prices were only up about 1% this year compared to last year; the bad news is last year was the highest we've ever seen." Also, as of Sept. 13, Delta too joined in the matching.

UPDATE #2 – Sept. 12: More from Rick Seaney: "Both US Airways and American Airlines are matching this increase."

UPDATE #1 – Sept. 12: Airfare analyst Rick Seaney reports that Canadian low cost-carrier WestJet is now matching the higher fares.

Sept. 11: Analyst Rick Seaney tells FareCompare that on Tuesday evening (Sept. 10), United Airlines and its Star Alliance partner Air Canada raised airfare prices on routes that originate in or are destined for Canada. This latest move to raise airline ticket prices is the 11th attempt of the year (see chart below).

Hikes on Canada Routes Up to $10

Although this price hike of up to $10 round-trip is limited in scope, it still represents more than 250,000 fare changes. Whether or not the hike will ultimately stick depends on how many competitors join in, especially American and Delta. But so far this year, the airlines have not had much luck in getting hikes to stick: the previous 10 attempts at raising prices resulted in only two successes, both initiated by Delta.

Few Successful Hikes in 2013

In fact, only Delta and United have attempted price hikes this year. As Seaney pointed out during the last attempt launched August 30 by Delta, the U.S. Justice Department's objections to the merger between American Airlines and US Airways may have forced those carriers onto the sidelines. "My guess is neither American nor US Air wants to be associated with headlines announcing increases of any type during this period," said Seaney.

But Pace of Hikes Picking Up

While the pace of hikes is picking up – it appears the airlines are now on track to match last year's total of 15 price-raising attempts – such efforts haven't been anywhere near as successful as in the past years. At least, so far.

FareCompare will update this report with any matching activity as soon as it becomes available.

Anne McDermott
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