Airlines Add New 'Peak Travel' Fare Hike for Summer Flights

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Don't be surprised if you find a new hidden fee tacked onto the flight for your summer vacation this year. Major airlines like Delta and American Airlines are adding a little-known "peak travel" surcharge on nearly all flights this summer, reports USA Today. The "peak travel" fee ranges from $10 to $30, applied to both departure and return flights, and is included in the cost of the ticket.

The curious revelation comes from airfare data analyzed by FareCompare.com for USA Today, which concluded that the five major airlines -- American, Delta, Continental, United, and US Airways -- have added this "peak travel" fee on almost every flight from mid-June through mid-August. This is akin to the airline industry "treating the entire summer like a holiday," says FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seaney.

The "peak travel" surcharge was first instated by American Airlines during last holiday season for Thanksgiving and Christmas flights, and has since been adopted by other airlines for high-traffic flight days. This summer, the fee will add $20 to an average one-way flight, with the surcharge being lowest on Tuesdays ($10) and highest on Sundays ($30).

Consumers are already paying more for airfare this year, even without the additional "peak travel" surcharge. The average price of a roundtrip domestic flight this summer is 10 percent higher than last year, according to FareCompare.com. A recent report by the UK's Centre for Economics and Business Research projects that international airfare will also be on the rise. By the end of 2010, international flights are expected to see a price increase by more than 5 percent, due to rising fuels costs and the $3.3 billion in revenue lost during the volcanic ash crisis that shutdown Northern Europe air travel for almost a week in April.
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