Relief from Fuel Surcharges?

Jonathan Weinberg, October 21, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    With the recent drop in the price of oil, some European airlines have begun to cut those fuel surcharges that help push the price of an airline ticket into the stratosphere.  British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM have all reduced their surcharges on passenger tickets, while other foreign and domestic carriers, including Northwest, have cut their fuel charges on air cargo.



    Domestic U.S. carriers however, have been reluctant to make similar reductions, arguing that the price of jet fuel remains too volatile to predict reliably over the next few months.  Delta has started to relax surcharges on some international flights, but so far they have been reluctant to do so domestically.  Despite lower fuel costs, the industry still expects to post a collective loss of about $6 billion for 2008.

    Robert Menendez, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey sent a letter to 11 U.S. airlines on Monday requesting they discontinue the surcharges and other fuel-related fees.  "I urge you to pass the savings from lower jet fuel prices on to the American public by rolling back fuel surcharges and extra fees," Mr. Menendez said in his letter. "If you tell the public that you need long-term higher prices to survive, I urge you at the very least to do it directly through fares, rather than a collection of confusing and hidden fees."

    While it looks like new fees for things like baggage, food, drinks and pillows and blankets are here to stay, passengers *may* get a reprieve from fuel surcharges in the near future.  Now that the price of oil is dropping, should US domestic carriers respond in kind and reduce or eliminate the fuel surcharge?  Let us know in the comments section below.

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