Everyone But Northwest Matches $50 Fuel Surcharge

All of the legacy airlines, with the exception of Northwest, have matched United Airlines $50 roundtrip fuel surcharge announced Friday. Airfare maven Rick Seaney says that Northwest is usually the last one in when it comes to price increases, but if they don’t follow suit by tomorrow, then the other airline could begin to wobble and drop the surcharge.

Seems kind of unfair that everyone gets charged the same, regardless of how long their flights are. What about prorating it based on how much fuel is actually getting used on the flight?

Northwest Airlines – Lone Holdout on the $50 Roundtrip Airline Ticket Fuel Surcharge [Rick Seaney]
(Photo: smcgee)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Chongo says:

    I bought a round trip ticket last thursday, do you think I’m in the clear?

  2. headon says:

    What about just charging the proper price for the item your selling. Every other business does. Surcharges are bull.

  3. forever_knight says:

    @headon: agreed. build the complete cost of your product or service into the PRICE. next thing you know a plane ticket will cost $250 and the surcharges and mystery fees will cost $150. it’s like taking a note from the telco playbook.

  4. snoop-blog says:

    while your pro-rating the fuel, charge the people who are overweight more, since they are heavier and more fuel would have to be used.

  5. youbastid says:

    @snoop-blog: I like the Ground Round “Pay your Weight!” model. I think $1.25/pound is fair.

  6. MDSasquatch says:

    I am still waiting for the first-ever hybrid 737. Take off and land under power of the fuel, coast under a pallet-load of Die Hards. By the way, the cruise lines are doing this as well. $5 per day, per person fuel surcharge. A one week cruise for me and my wife just went up $70.

  7. Buran says:

    I’m staying with Southwest. And if I have to go somewhere that Southwest doesn’t serve, I won’t choose any “legacy” carrier other than Continental if I can avoid it. Better yet, I’ll drive or take the train if possible.

  8. snoop-blog says:

    @Buran: i have only flown southwest except for one time north west, and i have never had anything bad to say. planes were in great condition, my flights were early, and the price was unbeatable. and i prefer the cattle call vs. assigned seats.

  9. weg1978 says:

    “Seems kind of unfair that everyone gets charged the same, regardless of how long their flights are.”

    Only if you are on a shorter-than-average flight. Otherwise, it’s a great deal.

  10. loganmo says:

    This totally blows for people flying short flights, such as DCA-JFK or LGA. You can often get a round trip flight for around $100, with taxes. This new surcharge means the cost of the flight has suddenly increased by 50%!!!

  11. rhombopteryx says:

    Wait a minute…
    Almost “all of the legacy airlines” have “matched” a fuel surcharge. I’m sure there’s no collusion to raise or maintain prices going on here. That would be illegal. Airlines would never get together and agree to raise a fuel surcharge.

    Come on losers, at least come up with a new way to rip off the customer.

  12. valthun says:

    I was speaking to my girlfriend about this over the weekend. While we both agree that the company does need to have operating costs paid for. We both also agree that setting a fee based on fuel charge is kind of dumb. As it makes the fee seem more arbitrary than actually going to the cost of operation. The price of the ticket should include the associated fees. If they want tho break down the costs on the itinerary that is fine, but don’t quote me 90 dollars plus tax, don’t add a 50 dollar gas tax on top of it. The fee should be based on the trip length and transparent as part of the ticket price.

  13. snoop-blog says:

    @valthun: agreed. don’t tell me the price is X amount PLUS a $50 surcharge. so were we not paying for fuel before or has gas gone up THAT much in the last few weeks?

  14. snoop-blog says:

    @rhombopteryx: thats why northwest is waiting a few more days. don’t want to make it obvious or nothing.

  15. mthrndr says:

    One more thing that won’t be covered if you use airline miles.

  16. snoop-blog says:

    @mthrndr: thats probably the reason for calling it a surcharge, and not just increasing the price using that as a reason.

  17. ianmac47 says:

    This is absurd. Fuel should be included in the price of your ticket. This is like a fast food vendor selling a soda and then having a surcharge for the cup.

  18. Buran says:

    @snoop-blog: Yeah, same here. I remember running into someone online once who complained endlessly about the random seating, and I had to wonder “why are you here?” since every other airline assigns seats… if you hate it so much, use someone else!

    One reason I don’t like Northwest/AA (among many others) is how old their fleets are. SWA has a young fleet, one of the youngest.

  19. Buran says:

    @Chongo: I think so. You can’t change the terms of sale after the contract is signed.

  20. juri squared says:

    Boy, I’m glad I bought my airline tickets yesterday.

  21. Trick says:

    Pure money grab… companies like this should raise their rates. It will piss the customers off far less. Knowing that a ticket will cost $250 instead of $200 with a $50 surcharge after saying yes to the price is far better.

  22. RagingBoehner says:

    OK I’m confused — I booked a ticket to Chicago on United last week for late Feb. and the price is still the same as it was last week.

  23. MDSasquatch says:

    I am not defending the airlines and I am not a mathematician, but some quick math if I may. Airline fuel sells for about $3.10 a gallon, a typical 737 can take up to 6700 gallons to fly cross country, that is $20,770 just for the fuel. The average Southwest 737 has about 130 seats. 130 x $50 is only $6,500. The airline is still on the hook for a little more than $14k just to cover the fuel. If each customer gets to the coast at a rate of $250 one-way, the airline pulls down $32.5k. After fuel, they have a bit over $18k left over to pay for all the overhead. Could they get you there with just $11,5k (18k minus the fuel surcharge) to work with? Probably, but then we’d miss out on all those great Southwest Airline commercials! I still think getting in a metal tube, cruising at 500mph+ beat sitting in traffic for two days at most any cost and the airlines know it!

  24. youbastid says:

    @RagingBoehner: I’m even more confused. I booked 2 r/t on United tickets for my parents a little over a week ago for $956. Today they were $808.

  25. MDSasquatch says:

    Probably because United is going to cancel the flight, blame it on the weather somewhere in the world and keep your money for 6 months just to frustrate you. As more and more people hear about this, United has to drop the price to get more “fish” on the line.

  26. RagingBoehner says:

    @youbastid: It may be worth calling them on that. Even if you have to pay a rebooking fee you could end up ahead.

    I flew Jet Blue earlier this year to Vegas and they cut the price by $50 on a one-way ticket. They didn’t give me the money back, but at least I have $50 I can use toward a future flight.

  27. Brian Gee says:

    @ianmac47: Nah. The cup is included, but there’s a new surcharge for ice, whether or not you want it.

    @MDSasquatch: You need to remember that airlines have always used fuel in their planes. This surcharge isn’t offsetting the entire cost of the fuel. Its just (allegedly) covering the increase in fuel costs over the last few days (or weeks, months, years). Some fuel costs are already built into the price, just like everything else that goes into the cost of flying a big airplane full of passengers (payroll, maintenance, etc).

    Using your numbers, that works out to almost $1 *extra* per gallon for a cross-country trip. If ticket prices were based on $2.10/gal, then the surcharge allows them to break even on the increased fuel costs.

    For a 500 mile flight (so maybe 1000-1500 gallons?), the surcharge works out to $4-6 extra per gallon, which more than covers the entire cost of the fuel. That’s just the surcharge. Its not including the fuel costs already built-into the price of the ticket.

    This is such a scam.

    I have to disagree with you on the driving vs. flying. I’m going to drive 650 miles tomorrow. In my SUV it will cost me more in gas than a ticket on Southwest (my fave airline). But I can take my dog and pretty much bring as much stuff as I want, including shampoo and nail clippers.


  28. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Fuel surcharge? Whats the other couple of hundred dollars for? 23 peanuts and 6 ounces of soda?

  29. LionelEHutz says:

    Surcharge? How about charging the correct price for tickets? This surcharge will NEVER go away. I might be wrong, but I don’t think that UPS or FED-Ex have ever dropped their so-called “surcharge” from 2001 or so when oil & gas went up in price.

  30. SactoKev says:

    So should I assume that next time I take a cab, after I pay the fart the driver will tell me I owe another $1.78 “surcharge” for fuel?

  31. SactoKev says:

    Goodness. Obviously, I’ve never payed a fart, nor did I wish to characterize cabbies as “farts” of any nature.

    Though I suppose several of the airlines could correctly be described as “farts.”

  32. maztec says:

    Something to keep in mind: Most of the fuel used on your flight is used during takeoff and landing. So a flight difference of just a hundred miles or so causes no major difference in fuel consumption. On the other hand, long-distance flights are, of course, consuming more fuel.

    Anyway… I ran into this while looking for something unrelated. I had to chuckle: [www.fuellessflight.com]

  33. MDSasquatch says:

    BRIAN GEE – I agree with you, I was just posting an example; even without a surcharge, they are still making money. I still prefer flying over driving, maybe it has something to do with the hour-and-a-half I spend commuting to and from work each day.

  34. meneye says:

    dont. fly. legacy. airlines.

  35. goller321 says:

    @Buran: Try telling that to Viatalk who has retroactively charged prepaid customers for recovery fees and such in the past.

  36. lordkertaz says:

    Makes me glad I use Jetblue to fly from Syracuse to JFK on breaks. They’re prices don’t seem to have gone up when I just checked them.

  37. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @MDSasquatch: I think the point most are trying to make is why now? for this surcharge. When fuel was $3.00 a gallon, OK, but $3.10?? Holy Crap!
    Add stupid surcharges to the ‘not our fault’ delays and the Jack-Booted TSA thugs on the “Reasons not to fly” list.

  38. improfound says:

    I just got a ticket on Delta from BOS to BWI. Normal price, no fuel surcharge. So maybe they aren’t tacking them on to shorter flights.

  39. JerseyJarhead says:

    To be sure, airlines are hit hard by fuel costs. But so is everyone. If they had any decency they would factor it into their advertised price rather than tack it on and pretend that it’s somehiow different from the true cost of the ticket. It’s like buying a roast chicken for $7.99 and then when you get to the checkout, they add $1.50 for the “roasting” part.
    The airlines are scum. At least they’re run by scum.

  40. deadlizard says:

    And yet, no bullet train in the U.S. of A. Airlines raise prices, not counting when I fly now I’m more nervous about an air traffic controller mistake than terrorism.