I just booked my airline tickets (via United) for the upcoming Christmas holidays and despite the massive fall in oil prices over the last two months, the price of the tickets had remained relatively unchanged during this period. What’s worse is that all those extra “fees” the airlines charged (like $15 for checked baggage) in order to offset higher fuel costs don’t seem to have been repealed or canceled either. I have been tracking tickets prices over the last few months to a couple of destinations where I planned to go and felt that with the 50%+ fall in oil prices the airline ticket prices would surely fall, despite traveling in the busy holiday season. So I was definitely disappointed to see little change (and in fact a rise) in ticket prices. But what really irked me and prompted this post was the lack of action on the so called fuel related surcharge fees, which are now going straight towards the airline’s bottom line profits and executive bonuses.
I know that airlines lock in/hedge fuel prices, but the dramatic drop in prices would surely make it cheaper to buy jet fuel in the open market. A few months ago, like a number of customers and frequent fliers, I received an open letter from the airline CEO’s stating their case for government intervention and support of the airline industry to combat dramatically higher fuel prices. They also mentioned that the higher passenger fares and fuel surcharges were “unfortunate” but that with input costs (jet fuel) so high there were no other options. Well, my response Monsieur CEO’s, is that now that oil prices and subsequently jet fuel prices have dropped so precipitously, why then haven’t fares dropped or all those fuel surcharges been canceled? I am sure you are profiting handsomely from the lower oil prices and basically gouging your customers leading into the holiday season. So the next time fuel prices spike, as they surely will, do not expect any sympathy from me.