Are the airlines colluding to force you to pay more?

Jason Cochran

A Washington, D.C. law firm heard something it didn't like in a phone call AirTran made to analysts last October. When someone asked if the airline planned to institute luggage fees, the CEO said "we would strongly consider it," if Delta did it first. Well, Delta went and did it. Then AirTran joined in.

The lawsuit, filed in Atlanta where both AirTran and Delta have their hubs, alleges that the CEO's public comments were a de facto "invitation to collude," which means they could have served as a sign to Delta that it could feel free to raise its prices and that it if it did, it wouldn't stand alone in the marketplace. It's against the law for companies to do stuff like that, and there have been anti-trust laws since the days of the railroad barons to ensure it doesn't happen, for the good of the consumer.

AirTran is claiming it "reached an independent conclusion on the decision to implement bag fees." I can't help but notice that isn't the same thing as saying it didn't send a signal to its rivals.