Airlines start the week with a fare hike, blame cost of fuel

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Remember when the biggest pain in air travel was a flight delay or cancellation? Times have changed. These days, frustration often starts before you even buy your ticket.

"It was horrible," said Janell Tucker about her flight buying experience." While I was online getting to book the flight it changed, right then and there!"

She watched her price hike happen. This is happening more and more in a time when the hoops passengers have to go through already leave people feeling taken advantage of. Jill McNutt is one of them.

"I never appreciate paying for baggage and this time I was kind of surprised we didn't even get peanuts!" she said.

Unfortunately, it's not getting better. Prices are going up, all thanks to the cost of fuel. Last Thursday, Jet Blue led the pack by upping its fares by $10. On Monday, Southwest followed suit, raising its fares between $4 and $10. By the end of that afternoon, US Airways, American, United, Delta and Frontier matched the price.

So what's the cost per barrel? We asked FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney.

"In 2011 they paid around 86 and this entire year this year it's been well over 100," he said.

Seaney says if that continues, we'll see more hikes down the line.

"I think we'll see another two this year before we hit the strong busy summer season," he said.

For passengers, it feels like another punch in the gut.

"We work it out, but it's more expensive," said McNutt. "And it kind of hinders what we do."

So, what is the best time to buy if you're looking to travel this summer? FareCompare says if you're traveling in May or early June, buy now. If you're going late June or July, wait three or four weeks. And if you're traveling this fall, in September or October, buy in August.