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Airline Fuel Surcharges

With the price of oil and gasoline at all time highs, it was only a matter of time before industries start charging extra. One sector in particular, airlines, have been particularly hit hard by the high price of oil. If you plan on traveling by air this summer, looks like you’ll be paying a few more dollars for the luxury.

Here are some of the increased fuel surcharges with some popular airlines:

WestJet

Distance Charge
>483km $20 one way
484km -> 1609km $30 one way
>1610km $45 one way

Air Canada

Distance Charge
>483km $20 one way
484km -> 1609km $30 one way
>1610km $45 one way
To U.S $50 one wa

United, American, and Delta Airlines charge up to $60 round trip depending on how far you fly.

Just a few months ago, the bigger carriers introduced a “2nd checked bag fee” to combat rising fuel costs. I’ve even read that some U.S Carriers charge an extra $15 for the first checked luggage. Now, they have introduced a new fuel surcharge IN ADDITION to the checked luggage fee.

I find it very disheartening when I go to book an airline ticket for a great price, but then the taxes/levies/gas/luggage surcharge doubles the original fare! We would be better off if they simply included all those fees into the price to begin with.

It makes me wonder if these new fuel surcharges are a source of profit for an airline. Apparently though, according to a Globe and Mail article on the issue, Air Canada is still paying more in extra fuel costs than the fuel surcharges cover.

Even with new fuel-efficient Boeing 777s, Air Canada’s fuel surcharge on the Toronto-London route doesn’t cover the one-way fuelling costs of $197.56 for each of the plane’s 349 seats.

Have high gasoline prices impacted your travel plans this summer?

Photo credit: Kossy@FINEDAYS







20 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Airlines are increasing their “other fees” like fuel surcharges like crazy. They are now advertising a nice price for the flight itself and then, you have to pay for taxes, surcharges, food, admin fees and so on… I think this is definitely the best way they found to increase their margin without increasing the advertised fee. I’m actually preparing an article on the topic of hidden and other fees ;-)

    In regards to the price of oil, I had to drive 3h and half to go to the vacation property we rented. Well needless to say that it cost us twice our weekly budget for gas for our vacation ;-) It was the very first time that I was putting for $60 of gas in one shot in my car!

  2. 2. cannon_fodder

    If you think that’s bad, my company has added surcharges for field technicians peforming service work onsite for the 2nd time in a few years. They also did it when the price of steel went through the roof – the price of our products actually went up.

    But, in 6 years, my car allowance from the company has not gone up 1 cent. Six years!!!

    What is interesting is has anyone heard of courier companies adding a fuel surcharge? They have trucks and planes, too.

    A fuel surcharge or a high gas price is not going to change my plans – I don’t have any!

  3. 3. The Reverend

    Fuel prices haven’t affected me directly too much. My wife and I have a combined commute of 15 kms (round trip) each day. We’re somewhat spoiled.

    We notice the cost when we drive to visit our parents but that’s about it.

    I feel bad for people who were planning to buy an RV and travel the open road in retirement. Well, I don’t really feel bad, but can imagine their pain. Those things must suck a ton of gas.

  4. 4. Telly

    Actually, it turns out we’re doing LOTS of flying this summer (trip to Mexico, weddings in NYC and BC) however, thankfully we booked our flights on Air Canada a couple months ago before the added surcharge (using points) for the trip to BC and there are generally always great deals to NY from Detroit on Spirit if you keep an eye on things so fingers crossed. Spirit has been charging customers a fee for their 1st bag for quite some time but their prices are pretty fair so I don’t mind (and we generally always manage to pack in just carry-ons).

    Air Canada’s taxes and surcharges seem to be much higher than other (American) airlines I’ve used.

  5. I planned on doing a transoceanic trip this summer. But I guess I might do it in off-peak season ( september) rather than during june-august timeframe.

    Anyways, the high gasoline prices are really bad for airlines. This industry is so messed up right now, that I am really surprised that anyone would lend them money or invest in them..

  6. 6. nobleea

    cannon_fodder;

    Yes, couriers add a fuel surcharge to their shipments.

    I will stick to last minute deals and points flights from now on. For last minute deals, it’s cheaper to fly to London, UK than to London, ON (from Alberta).

    Travel is important to us and we would never think of cutting back significantly.

  7. An attempt by U.S. airlines to list fuel charges separately from fares in advertisements was rejected by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Bloomberg News reports in a story carried by the Detroit Free Press. “The Transportation Department in December said it would consider loosening 22-year-old advertising rules as U.S. air carriers struggled with record fuel costs. The carriers’ trade group, the Air Transport Association, had requested the change,” Bloomberg writes. The DOT was considering four options, which ranged from the current set of rules to abolishing fare advertising rules altogether, according to Aviation Daily. The agency opted to keep the status quo. That requires airline ads to show full fares, but permits government taxes and fees to be listed separately. In its Tuesday decision to keep the rule intact, the DOT said: “We have concluded that the public interest will best be served by our maintaining the status quo

  8. 8. MikeG

    Fuel costs haven’t changed my vacation plans very much, but it strongly influenced my choice of car that we recently purchased. We found that the toyota corolla was the best choice for us, in terms of its fuel mileage and it wasnt completely gutless (ie not like the yaris). Our 1990 prelude used almost double the gas than this corolla does.. so thats like gas going down to 65-75c a litre :D …

    I’ve also started biking to work (20km ea. way) I wont need my gym pass for a while ..

    -MikeG

  9. 9. Bryce

    “Even with new fuel-efficient Boeing 777s, Air Canada’s fuel surcharge on the Toronto-London route doesn’t cover the one-way fuelling costs of $197.56 for each of the plane’s 349 seats.”

    Wow so before the fuel surcharges gas was FREE? Amazing. Fuel has always been the major expense for airlines. I don’t know why they have to break it out of the ticket price now. I don’t know what airline fuel costs but they didn’t have a fuel surcharge when I was paying 1.00 per litre and now they do when I’m paying 1.30 so it looks like they covered a 30% increase by charging a $45. Doesn’t sound like they are that hard done by.

  10. 10. Little Ms.Scrooge

    Hi all
    When I moved to Canada in the summer of 2006, I rejoiced at the pumps because the gas prices were under aCAD where as in GB it was well over a £. In less than 2 years,going to fill up at the pumps is not something that I look fwd to.
    This summer we are making a long trip across the world and the tickets were booked about 6 months back. I would like to think that we got a good deal.So far we have not heard about any additional price that we have to pay. Hope it remains the same. Does anybody else get the feeling that all we do is pay,pay,and pay. The incomings and the outgoings don’t match anymore!

  11. 11. Chuck

    In my case we’re lucky, my wife now works across the road from me, so we car pool. We have a Toyota Matrix and I end up having to fill it only once every 7-9 days.

    Its also important to plan your drives. I won’t drive halfway across town to go to my favourite bookstore, then drive back there the next day to see a movie.

    As a small business owner, I’d rather see the airlines advertise the full cost of the seat. A lot of prospective out of town clients want a fixed price including travel expenses. Flights are our biggest expense and I need full disclosure to come up with a comptetitve bid.

    What’s interesting, is if I book a flight with American Airlines, it might actually be operated by Air Canada. Who’s fuel surcharge will I pay?

    Last summer we did a road trip almost every weekend. I think this summer we’re going to stay closer to home.

  12. 12. Tom

    The airlines are definitely hurting now – the latest estimates were that the airlines would lost over $6 billion combined this year alone due to increased fuel costs. Now, they are even taking things a step further and considering options like eliminating extra water from the aircraft (wet-naps instead of sink water?) as well as removing refridgeration/ice units so that any drinking water is kept at room temperature.
    My favourite though has to be the idea of weighing passengers and charging them by their weight. What’s everyone think of that? I’m certain the thin will rejoice and the obese will picket, but IMHO this suggestion makes sense. I don’t mean to make it mandatory for everyone to step on a scale prior to boarding, but really, why should a 300-pound person not pay more? And why shouldn’t a 30-pound 2-year old pay less? The lighter people cost the airline less in fuel costs, therefore why shouldn’t they get a break? I suppose the airlines could spin this as a ‘discount’ rather than a penalty. For example, raise rates $50 per ticket across the board and then give a ‘discount’ if someone wants to step on a scale prior to boarding like:

    200+ lbs: no discount
    100lbs-200lbs $20 off
    50-100 lbs $40 off
    <50 lbs $60 off

    I think that’s fair. What’s everyone else think?

  13. 13. Telly

    Tom,
    I originally thought that idea was nuts but I really like your spin on it…you’re not forcing people to get on a scale but if they want a “discount” they can.

    I like it.

  14. 14. nobleea

    I like the idea, but the weight should be with their luggage as well.

    And if you pay by weight, then someone who is 300lbs should get as many seats as they need to make them and everyone else comfortable.

    Since 1980, Southwest airlines has made the obese pay for a second seat if they can’t get the armrest down. I like that rule.

  15. Even though it may be a good idea to charge based weight, I don’t think it would ever ‘fly’. :)

  16. *le sigh* no plans for me this summer anyways. Still, my parents live in Yellowknife, NWT and the costs of heating a home up there … youch.

  17. 17. cannon_fodder

    Tom,

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the airlines have ‘weighed’ every option in order to either cut down fuel usage or at least recover some expenses.

    If we take it to the extreme…

    Could you imagine people going on a crash diet so that they can get a discount and then filling up on carry on food while on the plane? Professional boxers and brides-to-be will write books and market instructional DVDs because of their expertise in this area.

    What about an airline that instructs all pilots to practice emergency landings as though the engines have cut out – and then instructs them that, due to the recent surge in fuel prices, that they now ‘glide’ in on approach?

    Or offering discounts for passengers that don’t mind standing the whole flight so that they can remove the seat?

    Surge in popularity of a ‘naturalist’ airline because of their no fuel surcharge policy – you don’t wear clothes and you don’t pack clothes so you really are travelling ‘light’.

    No more navigators or copilots – the pilot is now required to bring an AM radio for weather reports and a Garmin GPS for navigation. If s/he can’t figure out how to get from point A to point B with all of that technology, then (unless they’re less than 60 kgs) they’re out of a job.

    Only rice cakes and cheezies will be served on board – except in first class where they will also offer candy floss.

    Large air scoops will be installed on the larger planes and the pilots will be instructed to fly through the clouds in order to collect water for the bathrooms. They will take the water that goes down into the sink and use that to help flush the toilet. The toilets will no longer hold the waste for the flight and dump it just before landing but instead will release it immediately. Insurance claims from people on the ground suffering serious injury from these crystallized “waste bombs” will be thrown out, citing an “Act of God”.

    Headsets will not be handed out nor allowed on planes. Instead, they will pipe the audio of all music and video channels out the intercom speaker systems…simultaneously…in all languages. This will result in an increased requirement for heavy duty ear muffs (like the grounds crew wear) which the flight attendants will happily dispense at a cost of 10 cents / mile travelled.

    Finally, in a stroke of pure genius, no longer will they stock the plane with drinking water that may, or may not, be fully consumed by passengers. Instead, they will take aboard cases of dehydrated water saving a tremendous amount of weight and allowing the flight attendants to make up water based on demand.

  18. 18. AndrewP

    $50 surcharge from Canada to the US (and I’m guessing, beyond)!?!? EACH WAY!?!
    That’s preposterous! That will definitely change my travel plans, not only this summer, but in the future as well.

    Any overseas destination will, more and more, become a luxurious overspending. $50 each way for my wife and myself is $200 round trip. That’s 4 tanks of gasoline, which would get me about 2000Km. This summer, any travelling we make will be in a 1000Km radius of homebase.

    It’s not Europe, but I’ll be spending the same amount as an air traveller’s GAS TAX…let alone ticket, bogus surcharge 1, and bogus surcharge 2.

    For the record, I graduated recently in Aerospace Engineering.
    =\

  19. 19. paulette

    I cabt blame the airlines to hike airfare due to the increase of oil and gas. They also have to cope up in order to keep in the business.

  20. 20. paulette

    But im surprise that there are airlines like cebu air offering tickets all in and are very cheap.

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