Surcharges boosting cost of air travel


By Associated Press November 18, 2009

DALLAS - It could cost you more to travel next spring and summer: US Airways will add a 5 percent surcharge to all US flights on or after May 8, it said yesterday - to protect the airline in case fuel prices or other costs increase.

Separately, Delta, Northwest, and United confirmed they raised the surcharge on some busy days in March and April to $30 each way from $20, and to $50 on the day after the Super Bowl.

Most major airlines have been losing money this year, and they are scrambling to get revenue from bag-handling fees and surcharges. Airlines have also been cutting unprofitable flights, which saves money but reduces the number of seats available.

“The number of seats they’ve cut is allowing them to do crazy things,”? said Tom Parsons, chief executive of the discount travel site “They added bag fees and nobody blinked. They’ve got $150 [itinerary] change fees, and now the surcharges.”

Parsons said consumers should expect higher prices next year, whether they are called fares or surcharges.

“There were a lot of bargains in 2009, but it looks like that?s not going to happen in 2010,” he said.

It was not clear yesterday whether higher surcharges would stick, though. American and Continental had not matched them, Parsons said.

Of course, if the fuel doesn’t go up US Airways will refund the surcharge. (yea, and it doesn’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime)

Why can’t the airlines just say “here’s what it’s going to cost for your trip” and stop nickel-and-diming passengers? Don’t tell me that fare is $50 then add a charge for this and charge for that and yet another charge for something else.

Part of the blame needs to be put on the sheeples. They need to talk with their pocketbooks. If an airline is going to charge you for something then don’t use that service. I’m a strong advocate of people forgoing checked baggage and using carry-on instead. If more people did this the airline would lose money two ways: they would not get any obscene baggage fees and the flights would be delayed because it would take a longer time for people to get their carry-on into the limited spaces available.

They do say this is what it will cost, the surcharge is part of the fare, it’s just not part of the BASE FARE. They do this so that they can raise the fare without having to continually re-file fares for future ticket dates, they can just turn the surcharge on and off.

The airlines would in fact love it if people stopped checking baggage. It’s tremendously expensive. However, some people insist on packing 20 pairs of shoes, 11 blouses, a bowling ball, and ski pants for a weekend trip to Florida and the airlines have to charge to cover the cost.

I’d like to see all the airfare pricing sites list the total price of each segment when you’re selecting them, rather than tacking on $10-300 at the end of the process. I know it can be done since does it for all the airlines in GDS, but when I need to look up a SWA fare I have to play the game at their website.

In fine print they do.

Some members of congress are getting upset at the surcharges that the airlines are charging. If you think that’s because they are looking out for the passengers then you are wrong. The surcharges are not considered part of the fare so they do not have the air passenger excise tax charged on it. Now if the airlines were to increase fares rather than add a surcharge then the government, in it’s always-screw-the-taxpayer ways, would get to charge the excise tax on it.

Go to any airline or travel agency website. They tell you right in big numbers what your trip will cost before you buy the ticket. If you can’t read that or find that “confusing” - you are an idiot.


This doesn’t work in the real world because airline pricing doesn’t work on a segment basis, it works on an O&D basis.

For example, if you are flying SYR-DTW-SGF it doesn’t price SYR-DTW and DTW-SGF separately and then add the fares together, it gives you the filed fare for SYR-SGF and it doesn’t matter whether you were to connect through DTW or ATL (assuming the same fare class is open on both routings).

Sorry when I said segment I meant one way trip. I’m familar with fare rules, married segments, etc.

If I go to to book a one way fare, pick an option that says “$86”, on the confirmation page it’s $80 base fare plus $16.60 taxes and fees for a total of $96.60. Why won’t they tell me the total on the previous page?

ITA Software has no problem telling me the minimum trip price (including taxes, fees, and surcharges) for a multicity mutlicarrier trip when I’m selecting the first segment.

Airlines just show the base fares on the first page because that’s why Kayak and the Online Travel Agents decided they wanted to do.

Many people think that the Online Travel Agency is cheaper because of that and book there instead, even though the all-in price is the same. The airlines are just doing what the can to compete.

You know what would be good… A flat per mile fee for prices. It is crazy it cost more for me to fly from Portland to SFO than it does to fly Portland to Miami. How about 10 or 15 cents per mile traveled no matter how far it is.

Straight as the crow flies or each leg?

So, I want to fly PHL to TUL, but I’ve got to connect through Denver. What do I pay for, the PHL to TUL direct routing or the entire PHL-DEN-TUL route?

Suppose I have a business meeting in the USAIR Club in DEN while waiting for my connection, which saves me making a separate trip there the following week? Now should I pay for the PHL-DEN leg or is that simply a case of good fortune on my part?

United used to offer that under the PassPlus program; I forget what they called it but it was 40 cents a mile. They’ve now switched to fixed fares for mileage ranges.

There is such an animal, although the airlines are not required to use it. It’s called the Standard Industry Fare Level. The IRS does use it to determine the value of personal use of business aircraft.

Rather than making it complicated, the mileage used is the great circle distance.

The rate is determined by a per-mile charge based on different segment distances plus a terminal charge. It is adjusted every six months. The current rates aer:
Terminal charge: $45.71
Mileage charge
up to 500 miles: 500 miles = $.2501 per mile (plus)
501-1500 miles = $.1907 per mile (plus)
Over 1500 miles = $.1833 per mile

The reason for the different segment lengths is that the longer the fight the less it costs per mile. The terminal charge is used to factor in fixed costs (hangars, ground personnel salaries, leases, etc.)

See the references below for more details … /sf982.pdf