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Domestic air fares rose 4% in 2012; carry-on bag fees may be next

January 20, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • An airline expert predicts more airlines will begin to charge passengers for carry-on bags.
An airline expert predicts more airlines will begin to charge passengers… (Bloomberg )

Domestic airfares have been climbing steadily since 2009, and there was no letup last year.

But the uptick in ticket prices was not as steep as the last few years.

Domestic airfares increased 4.2% in 2012 compared to the previous year, to an average of $427 per ticket, according to ARC Corp., a Virginia-based company that completes the financial transactions between 16,000 travel agents and 187 airlines.

The good news is that the fare increases have been shrinking. In 2010, domestic airfares rose nearly 13% and climbed 8.5% in 2011, according to federal statistics.

But don’t celebrate just yet. Those nasty fees that Florida-based Spirit Airline and Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air charge to bring carry-on bags into the cabin may be adopted by other major airlines in the next year.

That prediction comes from George Hobica, founder of the travel website Airfarewatchdog.com, who got the tip from a source at one of the nation’s largest airlines.

Travelers hate airline fees, but Hobica points out that deterring carry-on bags can speed up the time it takes to load and unload passengers.

Hobica predicts that once one of the nation’s larger airlines — United, Delta or American — adopts a carry-on fee, other carriers will follow soon after.

“Don’t see why they wouldn’t do it,” he said.

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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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