Fuel surcharges disappear in Great White Transparency

ida278.jpgSurcharges, eh? They’re different up there, north of the border. Instead of just raising fares, they slap on fuel surcharges. Until the other day that is. The big Kahoona up there, Air Canada, said it will start incorporating all fuel costs into its advertised fares on North American flights, rather than tacking them on separately as surcharges. The two other major Canadian carriers, WestJet Airlines and Porter Airlines, quickly followed suit by removing their own fuel surcharges. But Air Canada said that it was wrapping the fuel surcharge into the fare, which effectively means a fare increase of $20 to $60 each way. So did the other two.

Air Canada masked the fare hike by adding that it will be the first major North American carrier to drop its extra fee for a second piece of checked baggage in response to the recent drop in fuel prices. The fee ends September 23. 

WestJet made some hay with its announcement, noting that it couldn’t rescind checked-bag fees because it had never imposed them. As for the fuel fees, well, it said, “we promised. It’s who we are.” The WestJet change was effective immediately. Brad Cicero, a Porter spokesman, said its change was effective the 19th. In the States, airlines have tried fuel surcharges but flyers have resisted, though the surcharges have stayed on international fares. Instead, US carriers have just tried raising fares.

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