Delta Air Lines Inc. and the largest U.S. full-fare carriers, seeking new revenue with a $10 one-way surcharge on holiday flights, widened the program more than fourfold to 13 days.
The five airlines added 10 days to the initial 3 covered by the levy, spokesmen for AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. said today. Holiday-weekend trips affected by the charge now include some after Christmas and Memorial Day.
Tacking on the surcharge allows airlines to take advantage of peak travel demand without systemwide fare increases. The effort builds on fees to check bags, buy snacks or pillows, or reserve select seats as the industry tries to find revenue from sources other than tickets.
“A $10 fee sounds relatively harmless at first glance,” Chief Executive Officer Rick Seaney of Dallas-based ticket researcher FareCompare.com said today in an e-mail. “But as travelers are quickly learning, $10 here for peak holiday departures, $20 for a first checked bag, followed by an aisle seat selection fee — pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
American, the world’s second-biggest carrier, began the surcharge in late September for flights on Nov. 29 and Jan. 2 and 3, and was matched by Atlanta-based Delta, UAL Corp.’s United Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc. and US Airways.
US Airways, American
The initiative expanded when Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways added six more days, American put on four more, and the rest of the group followed.
The new days included in the surcharge are Nov. 30, the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday; Dec. 19, 26 and 27, bracketing Christmas; March 14, 20, 21 and 28, some of the weekend days in spring-break season; April 11; and May 28, the Friday before Memorial Day.
Surcharges for peak-travel days are fare changes, not fees, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based American. Customers see the charge as part of the base fare before making a purchase decision, he said.
“It’s simply a much less cumbersome way to file a fare change when we are dealing with a very limited, narrow number of dates,” Smith said.