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Happy New Year! Airlines hike fares

Surprise, surprise: Just as news comes in that holiday shopping was up this year for the first time in a long time, airlines have begun raising fares. Don't you love it how everyone seems to pass along their higher gas bills to us, the lowly consumer? Some takeout delivery fees now include a "gas surcharge," and the higher cost of transporting food across the country (and from other countries) results in higher prices at the grocery store and restaurants. It almost feels like we're being taken advantage of because we, too, have to pay higher gas costs, but, as they say, the buck stops with us: Everywhere we turn, we're being slapped with other people's costs, though we can't pass ours along to anyone else. We end up paying our gas costs -- and theirs. 

I've been tracking fares to the West Coast on JetBlue since September, and they've remained pretty constant, but this morning, the same flight I've been watching -- which would have cost $216 -- will now cost me $233. And, silly me, I was holding out in hopes the fare would drop.

American Airlines just increased round-trip fares by $20 after raising them by $10 earlier in the month, and United Continental, Delta and US Airways have followed suit, according to, MarketWatch reports.

What's unique about this round of hikes is that airlines are raising fares, not fees, as they done in the past, probably because of the backlash against all the baggage, blanket and snack fees fliers have been incurring. Sneaky, sneaky.

With oil prices up to about $100 and air travel projected to decline next year, fares just might keep rising. MarketWatch quotes industry consultant Michael Boyd of Boyd Group International putting it plainly: "Revenue per passenger has to go up."

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