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More airline surcharges expected to pop up

April 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
With hiking oil prices, the already down air travel industry is aiming for revival by adding charges left and right. Consumer Specialist Ric Romero advises consumers on what surcharges to watch out for.Airlines are a long way from making their economic recovery. Just Monday, American Airlines reported a loss of a half billion dollars.

Many airlines are suffering from the cancellation of flights because of the Iceland volcano, so you can expect the airlines to find ways to boost revenues and tacking on surcharges.

Remember back in 2008 when oil prices peaked at over $140 a barrel?

Airlines then tacked on a fuel surcharge that lasted several months before being repealed. But now that oil prices are up again, guess what? Those fuel surcharges are making a comeback.

"Oh great, that's just what we need. I'm glad I'm not a huge traveler, I am getting tired of being charged every time we turn around," said traveler Susie Talamantes.

Also, American Airlines wants to charge an extra $20 on a roundtrip domestic flight to offset the cost of fuel and so does Delta, Virgin America and Alaska.

United said they would do the same thing but then backed off Monday morning. Also, airlines are hitting passengers with a peak travel surcharge too.

"I think it's ridiculous. Flights have already gone crazy," said another traveler Bonnie Wollard.

Let's say you want to travel over the Fourth of July weekend. If you fly Continental on the July 3, you will pay an extra $10 one way. If you fly American, it will cost you an extra $20. If you fly on July 4, it's $20 extra no matter who you fly with. But wait one more day and fly on July 5, and American lowers the surcharge to $10 each way and Continental drops the surcharge altogether.

So make sure when you book your flight, check surrounding days for the best price. Airlines are struggling to increase revenues so during this travel season, expect them to offer fewer sale prices, to add surcharges and release fewer cheap seats.

"What's going to be next? Water? Are they going to start charging for water?" asked another traveler Hector Talamantes.

Actually, airfares on average are down. According to the Department of Transportation, domestic airfares fell 14 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. That's the biggest year to year decline on record.

Meantime, five of the nation's biggest airlines have pledged not to charge travelers for carryon bags, which leaves Spirit Airlines to be the only carrier that does.


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