Have you tried to book a domestic ticket this week? The “new” Southwest Effect in light of the carrier’s operational meltdown is frankly obscene pricing on other airline routes across the country. Is this just supply and demand or is there price gouging going on?
As Southwest Meltdown Continues, Consumers Find Obscene Pricing On Other Carriers – The “New Southwest Effect”
The Southwest Effect is a phenomenon within the airline industry where markets that Southwest Airlines enters see an increase in traffic and a decrease in average airfares. This week, however, we are seeing a whole new Southwest Effect.
I woke up this morning with several messages and emails from friends and clients trying to travel domestically in the USA but finding that airfare is absolutely obscene. Let’s not forget that Southwest Airlines is the largest domestic carrier in the USA in terms of available seat miles. As Southwest implodes, travelers have been forced to search for other options and airfare on other carriers is skyrocketing.
For example, try flying from San Diego to Las Vegas tomorrow and there are no options under $1372:
From Chicago to Denver, nothing is less than $791 and a nonstop is $949:
Phoenix to Orlando one-way? Over $2300 and only United has space:
Dallas to Los Angeles? That will set you back $2500 for a nonstop or $1203 with a stop in Arizona:
Baltimore to Des Moines? $499 on Delta seems like a steal compared to the prices on American and United:
These routes were not cherry-picked. Instead, they represent what my friends or family are searching for and are but a sample of what everyone appears to be finding when searching for airfare.
Is This Price Gouging?
I will stop short of calling this price gouging until we have more data points, though it seems like this is no different than charging $500 for a shovel during a snowstorm. Looking at space, it seems that flights truly are full and the few options that are left are filling up fast…that’s not the issue. The issue is that some of these prices for economy class seem far beyond the standard price for full-fare tickets.
Rather than speculate further, I will just note that those who live by the government’s sword die by that same sword. Airlines insisted they had to be bailed out because they were, in essence, a quasi-public utility. If that was the case then, I do wonder if whether they can just pump prices up to obscene levels now…or whether this is “innocently” the reasonable nexus of supply and demand.
There are a lot of people trying to get home this week and finding themselves stuck or priced out. The Southwest meltdown has impacted far more than Southwest Airlines travelers, but everyone who is trying to travel this week. My point here is not to insist that there is price gouging going on, but to raise that possibility and also advise you to consider holding off on non-essential travel this week.
image: Southwest Airlines