Consumers may see higher prices as airlines prepare for holiday season and 2022

Photo (c) Aaron Foster - Getty Images

A shortage of customer service employees may make it difficult for travelers to make a changes

Airlines around the world are finally getting to enjoy life in the air again. With international flight restrictions eased and vaccinated passengers feeling good about their health safety, it’s all systems go for the holidays and 2022. 

While airlines have handed out great fares as a lure to get consumers back in the air after 20 months of pandemic fits and starts, will they jack up the prices again? The easy answer is yes. Most experts agree that prices will go up because of demand, but demand alone isn’t what’s pushing the price of a ticket up. 

For one thing, the rising cost of jet fuel is another factor. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic started to kick in, U.S. jet fuel prices were at $1.52 per gallon. As of Monday, jet fuel is selling at $2.27 per gallon, the highest it’s been since 2014.

Airlines are also feverishly trying to hire all the employees they can to effectively staff flights. United is hiring 25,000 people, and understaffing issues have caused both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines to suffer disruptions and cancellations.

Consumer shares a cautionary tale

The employment situation at airlines has also made life difficult for travelers who need to make a change to their trip. You only have to look as far as ConsumerAffairs reviews to find a good cautionary tale. 

In a recent review of American Airlines, Kevin of Sykesville, Md., said he booked a flight for Feb. 2022 a couple of months ago that had changed when he checked in on it recently. 

“To my horror they changed the home airport from Baltimore to Philadelphia and from Saturday to Friday. They also changed the return flight from Mazatlán to BWI to Phoenix to BWI. I guess they expect me to drive 20 hours to get to the Phoenix airport. No messages or emails were ever sent from the airlines to notify me of this ridiculous change. I even double checked my SPAM folder,” Kevin said.

Kevin thought the easiest way to fix the issue was to go on American’s website and change his flight. He described how frustrating it was to try to talk to someone at the company.

“Nope, I can't change my flight online and have to call. I call and they give me the standard ‘Wait times are longer than usual’. Again, no big deal. However, then a message comes on telling me my wait time will be NO LESS than 4 hours,” he said.

“They tell me live Chat is available on the mobile app so I download that. I get on a chat and have been disconnected 3x forcing me to repeat the same info. I currently have been on chats for more than 90 min and they just told me no flights are available and to call reservations. I see cheaper and shorter flight times available by American as I am chatting, but I don’t want to double book and not get refunded. I don't know if it is just me, but this whole thing is out of control.” 

Kevin’s story illustrates just how important it is for consumers to stay on top of their flight details. As always, you can read more reviews about airlines on ConsumerAffairs to help you make the best travel decisions.

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