Half-Empty Airplane A Testament To Higher Air Fares?

On my United Airlines flight from Houston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida yesterday, the airplane was half-empty. The Boeing 737 plane on this route, which I fly every week, is typically always full.

Since the merger between Continental and United started two years ago, I have noticed fares rising more and more, to the point where it has now doubled. As a result, I have had to cut back on the frequency of my travels between my offices in Houston and Miami. I have wondered when others will cut back on travel as well. I think this morning’s flight, was an example of things to come.

If United Airlines continues to raise fares, no doubt, less people will be traveling. There was a time, a couple of years ago, where they would offer those empty seats at last-minute discounted rates. But, for whatever reason, that seems to no longer exist as well. At the same time, United reports marginal profits or loses money, and would seemingly rather fly with empty seats.

I have also noticed over the past year to 18 months that, Southwest Airlines, which used to fly for “peanuts”, now has matching expensive airfares to most cities where United flies. And, my luck, Southwest never has the Houston to Fort Lauderdale route on sale.

Hopefully, the spirit of capitalism will soon return to the airline industry, perhaps with new competition, and lower prices.


About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at houstonlaw@aol.com, 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.