I’ve been bogged down with work the last few days and then spent the day at Frequent Traveler University yesterday talking road warrior strategies. I kept seeing posts about an apparent glitch showing up on Delta’s website. Was it true they were adding fuel surcharges to trans-Atlantic flights from the US to Europe?
View From The Wing reports that this is a glitch. In spite of the fact that some Delta phone agents were saying the change was intentional, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So, why all the panic?
Airlines aren’t in the habit of developing technology that they don’t intend to use. Now, Delta already adds fuel surcharges to award flights from Europe to the US. So, maybe this was an honest mistake with existing technology. However, Delta has been something of a trailblazer when it comes to establishing new fees and raising the price for awards.
“Fuel surcharges” really have very little to do with fuel. It’s true that the price of fuel goes up and down. It’s even true that sometimes fuel surcharges move up and down at the same time fuel prices do. There’s little correlation, though. The more correct term is “carrier-imposed surcharges”. In short, these are fees the airlines add because they believe they can get away with it.
British Airways is famous for tacking on fuel surcharges to economy class award tickets that make those awards virtually useless to redeem. American Airlines passes on those surcharges when you’re booking an award on a British Airways flight using AAdvantage miles.
The Final Two Pennies
Fuel surcharges really are a killer when it comes to booking award flights. In certain situations, the airlines have taken a benefit that used to be free (an award flight to your dream destination) and turned it into a cost for the customer. Maybe this glitch is truly a glitch, the resulting outcry much ado about nothing.
But, Delta has a history here. And, fuel surcharges really would be a painful addition on award flights from the US to Europe.
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