About a year ago, it became apparent that Southwest Airlines was no longer a source of consistently cheap airfares (though often the cheapest). On numerous routes on various occasions, its airfares were no lower than those of older airlines. In some instances, if it did periodically possess a price advantage, it was because it did not charge for suitcases checked aboard a flight or for using a telephone reservationist to purchase tickets. An airline whose name was once synonymous with low cost, became more like all the others.
It appears likely--not definite, but likely--that the same change of character is now being contemplated by other, formerly-low-cost carriers. Because the long-time president of JetBlue is about to step down, rumors abound that his hard-headed successors may no longer desist from charging $25 per suitcase per flight for the right to check luggage. And there are similar rumors that the feisty JetBlue may begin stuffing more seats into its planes--reducing the legroom in economy class that has pleased so many fliers in the past.
A similar change of policy is apparently being contemplated by Virgin America. And United Airlines has just taken delivery of airplanes whose seatbacks do not contain an expensive television monitor. By eliminating those features, it will save money, lighten the weight of seats (thus cutting the use of fuel), and also cause some passengers to increase their purchase from United of expensive wi-fi in order to watch movies on their i-Pads or laptop computers.
Investors in airline stocks are apparently demanding these altered policies in order to increase the profits of their particular airline. Although companies like JetBlue aready earn a major annual profit in the area of hundreds of millions of dollars, those airlines are obviously jealous of the larger profits that such lines as American Airlines currently enjoy.
So is the era of the low-cost airline over? Although carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Frontier charge low basic airfares, they already add so many additional fees and charges that their real airfares are much higher than would first appear. The traveler must get used to the fact that higher airfares are currently unavoidable and that the airfare component of all travel costs will be much higher than ever before.
The response to those higher airfares must be a determination by cost-conscious travelers to reduce their land costs once they arrive at their destination. By consciously seeking out more modest accommodations and other lower land costs, the frugal traveler can offset unavoidable higher costs of air transportation. Only by changing their travel habits at the destination will they be able to continue traveling at affordable levels of cost.