Flying costs more, thanks to airlines' fuel bills

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Airlines are making passengers pay for their trips to the pump again. The top six US airlines have added a new price hike on domestic fares amounting to $20 per round-trip ticket, the fourth increase this year, to counteract high fuel prices.

The airlines are calling the increase a fuel surcharge, meaning it does not immediately show up in the posted price of the ticket.

It comes on top of a previous $20 round-trip surcharge added in January. There have been two regular price hikes since then, which are included in listed fares.

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In one scenario, a round-trip flight from New York to Dallas might be listed at $248, but carry up to $62 in fees on top of the posted price, says Tom Parsons of online travel company Bestfares.com. "That is really going to tick off a lot of consumers."

Airlines that have added the new charge include United, American, Delta, Northwest, Continental, and US Airways.

With each of the big six airlines matching, "this is a done deal," says Bob Harrell, a consultant who tracks airline fares. "You're talking about 90 percent of domestic capacity."

Southwest Airlines, the No. 7 airline, does not have a fuel surcharge in effect. In markets where airlines compete with low-cost carriers like Southwest, not only will there be no surcharge, overall prices will be lower, Mr. Parsons says.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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