United Airlines has raised its already not-exactly-insignificant fuel surcharge for the second time this week, says USAToday.
The move — which came to light as oil prices topped $115 a barrel for the first time — could pressure other carriers to follow suit. But it also runs the risk of driving customers away at a time when they are growing fed up with air travel and coping with financial stresses of their own.
“There has to be a price point where the consumer says, ‘OK kids, we’re staying home,”‘ said Terry Trippler of tripplertravel.com.
Chicago-based United, the second largest U.S. carrier, said it was technically raising its fuel surcharge, not the base fare customers typically see in ads.
Travelers on some flights, such as Chicago to Minneapolis, who were paying a surcharge of $50 roundtrip will now see that charge increase to $70, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.
Fliers in markets where United previously did not apply a surcharge — mostly where the carrier competes head-to-head with low-cost carriers — will now be charged an additional $10 roundtrip. Urbanski said United faces competition from budget carriers like Southwest Airlines Co. on about 80% of its domestic routes.
United last week raised fares by $4 to $30 round-trip, citing record fuel costs.
Are we staying home, kids?
United raises fuel surcharges for second time in a week [USAToday]