Airlines tack on 'peak travel' fees

A family of four could pay up to $240 more for a round-trip flight this summer.

By Kim Peterson May 25, 2010 12:32PM
Air travel © Christie & Cole/Corbis Just when it seems the airlines couldn't possibly come up with another charge, get ready for the "peak travel fee."

Hardly a surprise, isn't it? Not after the fee to check a bag, the fee to carry on a bag, the fee for a blanket and pillow and the fee for a can of soda. (One airline is even considering a lavatory fee.)

Now, some of the largest airlines are tacking on a peak travel surcharge of as much as $30 a flight this summer. This charge itself isn't new, but the number of days it's being applied to this year has drastically increased.

In 2009, for example, peak travel fees were in place for only about 15 days at the end of the year, reports The Los Angeles Times. But this year, the fee applies to 74 of the 98 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The data comes from a fare analysis by website farecompare.com for USA Today. Post continues after video:
"For a family of four, the extra charges could add up to $240 to the cost of a round trip this summer vacation season," USA Today reports.

Some airlines are passing on the peak travel fee. SouthwestAirlines(LUV), which has turned its fee aversion into an effective marketing tool, said it will not implement a peak travel charge. Neither will Alaska Air (ALK), the Times reports.

But expect those travel fees to pop up at American, Continental(CAL), Delta (DAL), United (UAUA) and US Airways (LCC).
The travel surcharge will range from $10 to $30 for a one-way flight, depending on which day of the week you fly. Usually, the $10 charge applies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the $30 charge shows up on Sundays -- the busiest travel days.

"The airlines are treating the entire summer season like a holiday," the chief executive of FareCompare.com told USA Today.



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