For some time, airlines have been using a pricing structure that included various surcharges. Fuel, security, and other surcharges served to help air carriers recover fluctuating external costs, like skyrocketing fuel prices or the added expenses tied to changing security measures. Miscellaneous fees have become familiar costs, but we’re on the cusp of a pricing structure shift.
Many air carriers are beginning to roll out new pricing structures that no longer include specific surcharges for things like fuel or security. Some are going with an all-in price, while others are choosing a consolidated, more broadly named “airfreight” or “airline” surcharge. Either option will eliminate the multiple line items you’re accustomed to seeing, including the specific identification of fuel surcharges. The change in structure shouldn’t significantly impact your costs, but it is something that will take some getting used to.
Historically, fuel, freight, and security surcharges were a way for air carriers to recoup some of the costs that were beyond their control. With decreasing fuel costs and a fuel surcharge that, for decades, was linked to the jet fuel index, many consumers have been expecting those costs to drop. But the unknowns of a constantly-changing, sometimes volatile marketplace made those surcharges a necessity for air carriers’ bottom lines. Carriers are aiming to provide more clarity about the ways supply and demand drive market pricing and overall costs—while also controlling their indicators—in a simpler way. Remember that it’s the market that dictates prices, so don’t get hung up on the shell game; remain focused on the total.