Get ready to pay more for air travel, United Airlines is raising prices. A lot. As much as $50 for some fares. Continental has already matched the increase.
It was the fourth week in a row that carriers have raised ticket prices, and the second round of increases led by Chicago-based United, the second-largest U.S. airline, in as many weeks, according to a tally by airline ticket pricing Web site FareCompare.com.
United’s higher fares went into effect late Thursday, hours after crude oil prices surged to a new record of $111 a barrel. The increase is unusual for its size. Most recent fare increases have been limited to about $10 round-trip.
“It’s like the jump in (oil prices) has totally changed the playing field,” FareCompare.com Chief Executive Rick Seaney said.
United spokesman Robin Urbanski said the higher fares are based on the length of the flight, meaning that trips of under 500 miles will cost travelers $4 to $10 more round-trip. Journeys of more than 1,500 miles are now $12 to $50 more expensive than before the increase, she added.
Atlanta and Seattle, Boston and Denver, and San Francisco and Philadelphia were among the thousands of city pairs that will now cost travelers $50 more round-trip on United, Seaney said.
“They obviously have some metrics that say, ‘these are our less competitive markets,'” he said.
The move comes just a week after United raised its domestic fuel surcharge by an additional $6 to $10 per round trip, effectively raising fares. United’s fuel surcharge now stands at $50 round-trip in markets where the airline does not compete against low-cost carriers, Urbanski said.
“Fuel is our highest expense. The cost of it clearly continues to rise,” Urbanski said. “We must be able to pass along these costs just like other businesses do.”
Hope you weren’t planning on going anywhere…