United Increases Fuel Surcharge To $50

United Airlines will increase the fuel surcharge on roundtrip tickets to $50, a new industry high. “Every penny increase in a gallon of jet fuel costs our industry $195 million annually, and while we operate more efficiently, we must be able to pass commodity costs on to customers, as other industries do,” said UAL spokeswoman Robin Urbanski. The new surcharge is more than double the previous charge. Other airlines haven’t yet commented on whether they will match the move. Just another reason to not fly United.

UAL raises surcharge to offset soaring fuel costs [a wire service]
(Photo: Ben Popken)

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  1. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Meanwhile, air travelers reduce their spending on United Airlines tickets to $0.

  2. Hawk07 says:

    I think it would be a lot fairer to spread the increase in fuel cost across all tickets sold.

  3. pylon83 says:

    @Hawk07:
    Ah yes, it would SEEM that way. But then they either have to implement some crazy system to do the math, or they have to actually figure it into the fare, which would an absurd thing to expect. I mean, when you buy a a ticket to Vegas it seems a lot better to the consumer if the ticket it $200, but $300 after taxes and fees, than if the ticket is $250, but still $300 after taxes. it’s all a marketing ploy (making it a surcharge I mean).

  4. Sudonum says:

    Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why doesn’t United just charge a flat rate, like $200 a seat, that covers their reservation system, airplane leases, and employee wages, and then the passengers can just pay to fill the plane back up again after their flight lands?

  5. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I know all these companies have to keep a bottom line, but pissing off your customers messes up your bottom line. Unless of course they are counting on losing customers which would cut down on flights they have to schedule which means less gas.

    I dunno… Trains are looking better and better for leisure trips.

  6. nursetim says:

    @socalrob:
    Using that logic, think of how much United will save on fuel if they go out of business. I’m not flaming you, but while fewer flights would equal lower fuel costs, it would also equal less profit.

  7. goodkitty says:

    They should just sell tickets for $1 each, plus applicable costs. No wait, FREE AIRLINE TRAVEL ANYWHERE*!

    (*Fees and surcharges may apply.)

    I know it will hurt their biz if they just raise ticket prices to cover, you know, their operating costs (and nobody else does), but this kind of hidden fee thing is getting real old, real fast.

  8. humphrmi says:

    A lot of times these companies start (or increase) “surcharges” because they figure to Joe Public it’ll seem to make sense … gas costs more, right? So airlines gotta recover that, right? It never occurs to Joe Public that a fairly priced ticket would include the cost of fuel to run the damn airplane. So Joe Public will probably pay it,shrug, and say “Eh, they gotta pay higher gas prices too.”

    Joe Public is stupid.

  9. lalala1956 says:

    This is a story? Not! Who cares what surcharges, etc are added to a flight. Just use a website aggregator like kayak.com or farecompare.com when finding your flights and you can see the bottom line fares with all the surcharges addded on. Just remember that once you see a ticket that you like that you buy it from the airline directly.

  10. Annath says:

    we must be able to pass commodity costs on to customers

    Last time I checked, fuel was more of a necessity than a commodity. xD

  11. humphrmi says:

    @Annath: Further to that:

    we must be able to pass commodity costs on to customers

    Orange Juice is traded as a commodity. Do they charge a surcharge for that?

    I call BS.

    Joe Public is stupid.

  12. alhypo says:

    Surcharges are supposed to be adjustments in price for the purposes of covering temporary increases in supply costs. There is nothing temporary about the increasing cost of fuel.

  13. MMD says:

    People still fly United?

  14. OwenCatherwood says:

    @MMD: The first airline outside of United to implement something like their Channel 9 will instantly win the hearts and minds of aviation geeks the nation over…

  15. headon says:

    @ LALALA1956: Of course it’s a story. This informative story effects the bottom line cost of a ticket to the consumer. Perhaps you thought you were on a different site. This one is called THE CONSUMERIST. Next time check the address bar on your web browser it will alert you to the site you are on. Jeez.

  16. drinktillsheshot says:

    So you’re telling me that the cost of petrol has increased a factor of 5000 ($50) pennies for a round trip ticket? Keep in mind, this is a fee charged to EACH passenger.

    Methinks your logic behind the surcharge needs retooling.

    GO JAGUARS!

  17. Oregon says:

    Geez headon, if you had read lala’s post completely before commenting their remark about the surcharge as it is added into the price of a ticket. There would be no story if the headline read “Airlines raise prices on all tickets due to high cost of fuel”
    So please read other peoples comments, then have these simple things explained to you if you can not comprehend before you berate someone for making a legitimate comment.

  18. Oregon says:

    A jumbo jet gets 280 yards to the gallon flying at 39k.
    With the crowed skies,long waits on the taxiways, wonder how much fuel it takes to fly say 500 miles??

  19. kimsama says:

    Just sharing my hatred of United. It’s great to see they are first in line to raise the surcharge to more than double its original level. Ahhh, United, you never disappoint.

  20. headon says:

    @Oregon: I think your comment is illigitmate

  21. Oregon says:

    Reading Reuters most of the major air carriers have raised their ticket price since the first of the year to reflect the increase in fuel costs. United was the only one to call it a fuel surcharge and the only one to get more then a passing mention.

    Headon; please keep writing your wonderful and dare I say witty comments. Your insight and profound intelligent outlook is an inspiration to all who venture here…

  22. algormortis says:

    I like Channel 9. I have been delighted with my recent experiences on United, actually, but in the past they’ve screwed me over so badly it took 4 years to give them a chance again.

    I think that UAL’s decision to call it a fuel surcharge looked great to the bean-counters and horrible to the PR types; the bean-counters said “we can still advertise lower fares!” and then the PR people didn’t speak up and go “why don’t we make it look like everyone else’s?”, and now this happens.

    Nota bene that fuel charges are common amongst foreign carriers; every time I am chortling with glee that I have gotten some impossibly great fare to Osaka, the fuel surcharge shows up as I have my AmEx whipped out ready to facilitate commerce. Sad.

  23. tomcatv1 says:

    I wouldn’t fly UA on a bet or if I were paid to and haven’t in 15 yrs but when the airline industry makes it possible to fly East Coast to West for $350.00 what’s the big deal with paying an additional $50 surcharge for fuel. Get used to it.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    Screw this crap, how about just including it the actual fare?

  25. headon says:

    It’s an obvious attempt to make their product look cheaper when in fact it is actually more expensive. It’s a deceptive marketing ploy. Charge what you need to charge but calling it a surcharge is cheating. I purposly cancelled my trip to Oregon due to this surcharge.

  26. supesguy says:

    Why not just charge what the additional fuel actually costs instead of adding a fuel surcharge to the price. I never understand the surcharge. If it costs more to truck some cauliflower to the supermarket, then they just raise the price of the cauliflower, they don’t add a fuel surcharge to the price.

    I love the very round 50.00 dollar number United came up with too.

  27. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I love how airfares are advertised at one price, and by the time you’ve added taxes, fees, and surcharges, the ticket is $100 higher.

    But yes, if it’s a “surcharge,” then the increase doesn’t have to be counted as “base fare” when airlines are advertising fare prices. Sounds rather like a deceptive business practice.

  28. zero_o says:

    I find it hard to believe that for each penny it costs the airlines another $195,000,000.00 unless my math is wrong.. which it could.. be isn’t that 19,500,000,000 as in 19 billion 500 million gallons of fuel?

  29. uricmu says:

    The crazy thing is that it’s a flat fee on top of the fare. You could have a 100$ roundtrip becoming 150$, or a 500$ becoming 550$. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a local flight or if it has multiple stops or if it is cross country or even international.

    Luckily for the airlines, they are all local monopolies unless you live in NYC.

  30. LawyerontheDL says:

    A fuel surcharge is ridiculous. In other words, if I fly from Boston to NYC, I am paying the same surcharge as a person flying from Boston to LAX? Isn’t the LAX plane using a hell of alot more fuel? It’s kind of like a restaurant charging a food surcharge. What the hell are we paying the airlines for?

  31. DXDawg says:

    @humphrmi:

    Trust me. You DO NOT want to make these guys mad.

  32. lincolnparadox says:

    Couple this with all of the hassle with airport security and flight delays, and you may as well take the train or drive.

    Sure, sure, maybe the extra $150 per ticket is worth not having to drive for X hours, or sit on a train for X+5 hours? But I’d rather take an extra 2 days off of work for traveling, than give the airlines another penny.