Digital News Report- Several major airlines have made the decision to add a $10 “peak-travel” surcharge on busy travel days around major holidays. Airlines adding the surcharge include American, Delta, Northwest, United, Continental and US Airways. However, Southwest and JetBlue have refused to follow the trend. “We are not in the habit of adding fees like a holiday surcharge and baggage fees,” says Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger.
The popular airfare-shopping site, FareCompare.com, was the first to notice the new fee. “I’ve never heard of such a surcharge,” said FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seaney. The fee was first implemented by American Airlines, which originally had it apply to days around Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, US Airways quickly followed suit, and now numerous airlines have expanded the fee to cover 13 days throughout the year.
The airlines have defended the charge, stating that it’s “very common to charge more for fares on peak demand days,” according to American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. According to Smith, the surcharge is “much less cumbersome” for the airline than filing a fare change.
Despite this surcharge, airfare is generally lower this upcoming holiday season due to lower fuel costs and decreased demand. Prices on average have been 12-15% lower than the same time last year. Airlines have also increased their reliability compared to last year, with on-time flights 79.7% of the time in August 2009. In 2008 the number was closer to 78.4%.
Even though airfare is cheaper and airlines have been deemed slightly more reliable, this fee has not sat well with frequent travelers. With baggage fees, seat assignment fees, phone reservation fees, and a ton of other fees with ambiguous purposes, adding one more to the pile has only added to the headache.
The surcharge is for travel on the following dates: