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Airlines impose fewer peak-travel charges for the holidays

September 25, 2011 |  8:00 am

Delayed passengers

Although airfares have been on the rise for the last year or so, there is good news for holiday travelers: Several of the nation's largest airlines have dramatically reduced the number of dates on which they will impose a peak-travel surcharge.

The fees, which range from $20 to $40, are typically added onto one-way fares for passengers who fly on such popular travel dates as the day before Thanksgiving or the day after New Year’s Day.

Around this time last year, most of the largest airlines had already added peak-travel surcharges to 18 dates between Nov. 18 and early January.

But so far Delta, American, United and Continental airlines have added the surcharge to only six peak travel days, according to Tom Parsons, chief executive of the travel website BestFares.com. The surcharges have been added for flights on Nov. 27 and 28, Dec. 22, 23 and 26 and Jan. 2, he said.

Several airline representatives confirmed the surcharges but declined to discuss why they are imposing the charges on only six dates instead of 18 or more.

Parsons said the reason some airlines are cutting back on peak-travel charges may be that they have already raised fares significantly over the last year. Another reason for the cutback, he said, may be that airlines fear the sluggish economy and rising ticket prices will combine to kill the holiday travel season.

There are a few exceptions to the shift in tactics. US Airways, for example, has imposed surcharges on 19 days in November and December. Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, said it won’t impose any charges for traveling on peak-travel days.

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-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Passengers wait in a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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