United Airlines Reverses Airfare Increases

The increase in airfares implemented by United Airlines last week has supposedly been reversed for the most part — at least temporarily — according to reports by FlyerTalk members.

United Airlines Reverses Airfare Increases

Airfare increases usually fail to remain if either other airlines do not follow suit, or if at least one airline matches the fare increase but then cancels it — which is apparently what happened here.

While not a factor for the reversal of an increase of up to ten dollars per domestic flight in the United States, oil prices are expected to decrease in the near future, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. While this does not necessarily mean that airfares will decrease even further, this does mean that you can expect the price of fuel to decrease in 2013 — although gasoline prices where I am based shot up 30 cents per gallon since Christmas but is starting to slowly decrease.

I remember when the fluctuation in gasoline prices was barely noticeable: a few cents up today, a couple of cents down three days later, and so on. Today, gasoline prices shoot up ten or 20 cents at a time with a blink of an eye, but their decent seems to take forever. I have no proof and I am no expert in energy prices, but I suspect that somewhere along the line, some segment of the gasoline industry is taking advantage of an arbitrage opportunity every time oil prices decrease. Regardless, it is irritating to be sure — but I digress.

Summary

The practice of increasing airfares — only to have them reversed — is not unusual, if you read the countless discussions on this topic on FlyerTalk in the various airline forums. Before the implementation of ancillary fees imposed by airlines, it seemed that airlines attempted to increase airfares every time they had an opportunity — but last year, fewer than half of the attempted airfare increases actually were successful. Even then, FlyerTalk members can usually find significantly low airfares — and that has happened to me as well. Due to competitive reasons as part of the “lemming” effect — which, by its true nature, is actually a misnomer — the airfare increase is almost certainly rescinded if no other airline follows suit.

Ancillary fees have been quite profitable for airlines. To increase airfares on top of that for what appears to be the airline having its cake and eating it too — but not this time, United Airlines.

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

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