The Department of justice in looking alleged collusion in setting prices among the nation’s major airlines. Wow, who could have seen that coming — apart from anyone who has flown lately or examined online pricing or has read in their newspaper about airline executives discussing the subject?
This is merely the latest chapter in an on-going saga I have called for many years under this slogan: The airlines are not your friends. If you believe otherwise, you are either being foolish or haven’t used pubic transport since the days of stagecoaches. Which were, as it seems to go these days, a bit more comfortable than many flights in 2015.
So, let’s begin by saying that this is an investigation by federal prosecutors, and we don’t know if airline executives have colluded in an effort to limit seating and thereby raise fares. We just suspect they have because it’s right in line with the greedy, screw-the-customer approach most airlines have adopted as their revenues jump to unheard of levels in recent years. Ye, I know that’s harsh. But again, have you flown lately?
The number of fees tacked on to fares has dramatically increased since 2010, and fares have continued to rise, though not as much as in some years past, largely because all those extra fees are providing such a nice windfall for the airlines.
Anyhow, the Justice Department believes the airlines have been closely coordinating efforts to make it harder for passengers to find seats, which restrains competition snd leads to higher fares. This comes after that same Justice Department approved a series of mergers in the industry that created “super” airlines that have substantially eliminated competition. According to The New York Times, 80% of the nation’s air traffic is concentrated among four airlines: Delta, United, American and Southwest.
There were warnings at the time of the proposed mergers about this happening, but federal examiners tossed them aside. This new investigation is the result of that mistake. We’ve gone from over-regulation several decades ago to under-regulations today, and until we can find some middle ground, our airline industry is going to keep putting it to everyone except those able to afford to pay the highest possible amounts for their flights. For the rest of us … well, enjoy that bag of peanuts while you can.