Airlines are passing on the rising cost of jet fuel to passengers, who now face surcharges of up to $130 per ticket.
Air travel these days is an adventure with many surprises, some of them unpleasant.
That also describes the process of simply buying a ticket.
Airlines have raised fares or increased surcharges, partly to cover the rising cost of jet fuel, at least 10 times so far this year. That happened most recently Thursday, when Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines boosted ticket prices, this time by $20 round-trip.
The increases affect the carriers’ fuel surcharges, now $130 round-trip on many flights, which have wiped out many of the discounts the carriers offered in 2007 to fill planes.
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Full-fare coach tickets on some transcontinental routes, like Los Angeles to Philadelphia, now cost more than $1,000 round-trip. Business-class tickets are up 30 percent from the lows touched three years ago, when Delta cut fares sharply, according to Robert Harrell of Harrell Associates, which tracks airfares.
But those figures do not include higher charges and fees, particularly for the higher price of fuel, which has jumped more than 63 percent over last year.
On some airlines, fuel fees are more than $100 round-trip for domestic flights, and $300 and up for overseas flights lasting nine hours or more.
High fuel prices are pushing big airlines like Delta and Northwest to merge, while US Airways and United are discussing a deal. Meanwhile, several major airlines have announced plans to eliminate flights over the next few months in an attempt to reduce expenses.
“If summer travelers are expecting to see the same sorts of airfares they saw last summer, they’re going to be very unpleasantly surprised,” said Tim Winship, editor of SmarterTravel.com. “With both the net airfares and what people end up paying because of the additional fees, everything is going to be higher in summer 2008 than in summer 2007.”