Much has been made since the year began on the volatility of oil prices and how a drastic increase could lead to a pretty expensive summer for air travelers.
So far, those concerns appear to be coming true as airlines attempt to avoid major losses as oil rises to its highest level since 2008.
Southwest Airlines, often considered a benchmark for airfare since the airline typically offers the least expensive flights to most of the U.S., raised prices by $10 roundtrip last week and other airlines quickly matched the increasl.
Today, USA Today reports that airlines are continuing the trend of raising ticket prices by targeting premium seats and last minute travelers as airlines search for ways to maintain profit in the midst of rising fuel prices (fuel accounts for nearly 1/3 of an airlines’ total cost).
It’s the third time this month that the industry has tried to charge business fliers more, and the fourth time this year that leisure travelers saw a jump in prices. With fuel costs soaring, and airline seats and flights pared, travelers may have little choice but to pay up if they want to fly, experts say.
Airlines are hoping that a rebounding economy and a bump in air travel demand will help keep planes full even as prices go up.
Currently, domestic flights this spring are 8% higher on average than last year and international flights are 10% higher.
With oil trading near $100 dollars a barrel this early in the year, airfare increases could still be on the horizon as the summer typically brings the highest fuel prices of the year along with an increase in air travel demand.