Enough already with news reports about those $10 fare hikes

George Hobica, January 11, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Can we gripe a little? If you pay attention to news reports about airfares, you probably see a lot of items that read something like, "United Airlines has pushed through a $10 fare hike, and other airlines have matched." In fact, in the course of a year, you might see a dozen similar reports. Once in a while, the same news sources will publish an item saying that one or more of these "fare hikes" was "rolled back" or "didn't stick."

    Now honestly, math was not our best subject in school and we still need a calculator to figure out restaurant tips, but if there are 12 or 15 $10 fare hikes in a given year, shouldn't airfares have gone up? But that doesn't seem to have happened on many routes.

    This is a point ably made by industry veteran Tom Parsons, quoted by the Denver Post's Ann Schrader: "I'm not losing any sleep over these fare hikes," Parsons says, noting that in 2008  it cost about $198 round-trip to fly between Denver and the West Coast, but with "15 fare hikes in 2008 with an average of $10 each...it should cost $348 for the same roundtrip," but in fact fares are now $138 to $158 (plus tax, of course).

    What do these never ending $10 fare hikes really signify? To which fares, exactly, are they added? All fares? Non-discounted fares? The sources announcing these fare hikes never say. We're not saying that these reports are meaningless, only that we don't know what they really mean, and wish reporters would dig a little deeper rather than reporting them at face value.

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