Summer Surcharges: Nearly Every Day Is Peak Travel Day

Airlines consider 73 of 74 summer days "peak"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    For airlines, nearly every day is a "peak travel day."

    Airfares had already shot up this summer, and now comes word of "surcharges" of up to $30 each way for "peak travel days."

    Almost every day this summer is considered "peak." Five airlines, including Fort Worth-based American, count 73 of 74 summer travel days as "peak," said Rick Seaney, operator of travel website FareCompare.com. Only the historically low travel day of July Fourth is not included.

    Fourth of July Only Summer Day Without "Peak" Surcharge

    [DFW] Fourth of July Only Summer Day Without "Peak" Surcharge
    Five airlines consider 73 of 74 summer days "peak travel days" with surcharges of $10 to $30 on top of regular fares. (Published Monday, May 24, 2010)

    "They've been changing in price, but they range from $10 to $30," Seaney said. "What they're doing is targeting special days where they know their planes are going to be completely packed and charging a premium for those days."

    An analysis by Seaney's website found Tuesdays generally have the lowest surcharge -- just $10 each way. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are $20. The busiest travel day, Sunday, has the highest surcharge of $30.

    The costs are in addition to higher base fares.

    "A lot of people have been expecting summer fare sales," Seaney said. "They saw one every week last year. This year, we have hardly seen any summer sales at all."

    With the economy improving, people are traveling more, according to experts. Demand for tickets is up, but airlines are not increasing the number of flights.

    "Airlines have not given back any of the seats they took away for the last two or three years, so there's a lot fewer seats, and that's driving up prices," Seaney said.

    The airlines charging the summer peak fees include American, Delta, Continental, United and US Airways, he said.

    Dallas-based Southwest Airlines does not add on any surcharges, but Seaney said the discount carrier has not had a major sale since November.

    Passengers at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Monday made it clear they don't like the add-on fees.

    "I'd appreciate it if they wouldn't," said one man in Terminal D who was heading to Africa for a few months of mission work.

    "Now they figure everyone has money in their pockets -- cha-ching," another woman said.