Breakout

Air Rage: airfares climbing at fastest clip in 15 years

Jeff Macke
Breakout

Flight cancellations, hour long security lines, endless delays and rapidly rising airline fares are turning the friendly skies into fight club. A day after footage of one man's mile-high meltdown went viral came news that might make you want to throw a seat cushion or two yourself: airline fare prices jumped 6% in May. It's the steepest one-month increase in 15 years.

The price hikes come despite the fact that the U.S. travel experience has in some ways never been worse. Once again this year no U.S. carrier managed to crack the top 20 in a rating of the best airlines by Business Insider. At SkyTrax only Jet Blue and Virgin U.S. qualify for even four stars (out of five) on their ratings of hundreds of global carriers. Those two airlines account for less than 5.2% of U.S. traffic and Virgin isn't even a U.S. company. For the sake of comparison Kazakhstan has the same number of fully domestic based carriers with a four star rating.

Of course don't blame the record mergers that have given four U.S. carriers 80% of the market. Unless you're a spokesperson for an airline lobbyist in which case you can do exactly that. Explaining the rising fares Victoria Day of Airlines for America said "the growth in air travel demand has been exceeding the growth in supply" says Day, almost trying to infuriate you. "And consumer purchasing power is actually increasing with gains in household net worth"

In other words, sure the airlines are gauging you a little bit, but only because the government lets them and you can afford it. Here's another thing that's moving higher: air rage. According to the IATA "incidents" like the one last weekend rose 57% in 2013. Don't look for that trend or airfares to move lower anytime soon.

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