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Why Am I Still Paying A Fuel Surcharge?  
User currently offlineB777a340fan From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 775 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8493 times:

I think couple months ago, a fuel surcharge was arguably justifiable with price of fuel the way they were. But now, fuel has dropped drastically. So why am I still paying $200 of fuel surcharge? Note, it's a surcharge... meaning that I'm already being charged an amount for the fuel already. WTF?

43 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineVio From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1446 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8450 times:

It's the same thing with Air Canada. They still have a ridiculous amount. I just booked a flight from BNE to YVR (via SYD) and out of the 1750.00 Canadian Dollars, more than 200+ were for the fuel surcharge.

I think it's lame, but at the same time, the airliners' fuel cost does not vary from day to day. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they have some sort of "deal" with the fuel companies that will allow them to purchase gas at a fixed price, for a set amount of time, no matter if the price of fuel goes up or down.



Superior decisions reduce the need for superior skills.
User currently offlineB752OS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8430 times:

Why do groceries still cost so much even though commodity prices have come down? Simple, because it's a slippery slop and airlines can do it. Unlike grocery stores that can put pressure on vendors that they will buy from someone else, passengers don't have the same weight with the airlines.

Quoting Vio (Reply 1):
I think it's lame, but at the same time, the airliners' fuel cost does not vary from day to day. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they have some sort of "deal" with the fuel companies that will allow them to purchase gas at a fixed price, for a set amount of time, no matter if the price of fuel goes up or down.

It's called hedging and it can be a blessing (assuming fuel prices go up over a period of time, see WN as being the best) or it can be hell (prices go down).


User currently offlineTKfan From Turkey, joined Oct 2007, 670 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8424 times:

It depends on which Airline you are flying. If the Airline did hedge their fuel in the past, they are still obliged to pay a higher price as the current market price.

In times were fuel was very expensive, these Airlines benefited to chash lower surcharges. but now while the fuel is cheaper, they still have to charge the same amount to survive. Otherwise they will have a huge loss.

OK, they are threatened to loose also customers if it is to exaggerated...


User currently offlineMayor From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 10601 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8399 times:

I would imagine that even though the price of fuel has gone down, it hasn't affected most carriers, yet because their hedges are in place at a higher price. Once those hedges run out, then you might see the surcharges dropped.


"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
User currently offlineB752OS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 8384 times:



Quoting Mayor (Reply 4):
I would imagine that even though the price of fuel has gone down, it hasn't affected most carriers, yet because their hedges are in place at a higher price. Once those hedges run out, then you might see the surcharges dropped.

For those who have seen their hedges (swaps, forwards, futures) go underwater their charge is justified. But I really don't see any of the carriers recanting on the recent deluge of fees. Whether it be the checked bag fee or the fuel surcharge. The airlines have become comfortable with they extra revenue stream coming in.


User currently offlineRB211 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 632 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8384 times:



Quoting B752OS (Reply 2):
It's called hedging and it can be a blessing (assuming fuel prices go up over a period of time, see WN as being the best) or it can be hell (prices go down).

And despite what many people have been told, baggage fees have nothing to do with fuel surcharges or anything having to do with fuel.



Airline photography. Whether they're fully clothed, butt naked, having issues or confused I'm taking pictures!!
User currently onlineFlying Belgian From Belgium, joined Jun 2001, 2397 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8371 times:
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It's almost 275€/360$ of YQ-surcharge when you book a return ticket from Europe to Australia on Singapore Airlines !!! That's a huge amount.
Until when this will last is an interesting question.
I guess hedging is the sweetest excuse in that case.

FB.



Life is great at 41.000 feet...
User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4123 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8371 times:
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As B752OS pointed out, it's due to a mix of critical volume and customer awareness. Not enough passengers are voting with their feet against the continued existence of a fuel surcharge for the airlines to care, but some freight carriers have lowered their surcharge on the other hand, because their customers are savvy and big enough to force these reductions.

Large customers with corporate contracts (passenger airlines) are paying more attention, however, and are telling airlines they will not be paying summer 08 level fuel surcharges, whether it is a "real" surcharge or built into the contracted price/discount.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineNaritaflyer From Japan, joined Apr 2006, 549 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8344 times:



Quoting B752OS (Reply 2):
It's called hedging and it can be a blessing (assuming fuel prices go up over a period of time, see WN as being the best) or it can be hell (prices go down).

Hedging means you don't lose whether the price of fuel goes up or down. I think many people mistaken forward fuel purchases and hedges. What WestJet did was forward fuel purchases which means they were making a call on the future price of oil and in this case they were right.

Hedging is when you are neutral. Say oil is $50 today and so I price my airline tickets based on the price of fuel I can buy at today's prices. I add a margin to my cost and price my seats accordingly. I sell $20 million worth of tickets for which my fuel cost will be $6 million at today's prices. To protect my margin, I will go ahead and buy $6 million worth of oil futures in the period that matches the advance ticket sales. So from that point on, whether oil goes up or down I would be neutral and my margin would be protected. Say oil rises by $3 million, I make $3 million gain on my futures contractrs but I would have to pay $3 million more to buy fuel and so on.

The mistake that many people make when they talk about hedges is the mark-to-market provisions that accountants have come up with. Say oil price declines $3 million in my example, the accounting rules say that I have to show a loss on my futures contracts that remain unexpired at the end of the month. So in this case, I have to book a loss for $3 million on my contracts but I also pay $3 million less for my fuel.

So a hedge does not cause a loss or a gain. It is there to make it neutral. When it is a loss or gain that means the airline did not really hedged but speculated on the future price of oil.


User currently offlineB752OS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8316 times:



Quoting RB211 (Reply 6):
And despite what many people have been told, baggage fees have nothing to do with fuel surcharges or anything having to do with fuel.

Of course they are. When the airlines started getting hammered with the extremely high cost of fuel, they had to look at ways they could create extra revenue streams to help offset the larger outlays for fuel.


User currently offlineB752OS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8279 times:



Quoting Naritaflyer (Reply 9):
Hedging means you don't lose whether the price of fuel goes up or down. I think many people mistaken forward fuel purchases and hedges. What WestJet did was forward fuel purchases which means they were making a call on the future price of oil and in this case they were right.

Hedging is when you are neutral. Say oil is $50 today and so I price my airline tickets based on the price of fuel I can buy at today's prices. I add a margin to my cost and price my seats accordingly. I sell $20 million worth of tickets for which my fuel cost will be $6 million at today's prices. To protect my margin, I will go ahead and buy $6 million worth of oil futures in the period that matches the advance ticket sales. So from that point on, whether oil goes up or down I would be neutral and my margin would be protected. Say oil rises by $3 million, I make $3 million gain on my futures contractrs but I would have to pay $3 million more to buy fuel and so on.

The mistake that many people make when they talk about hedges is the mark-to-market provisions that accountants have come up with. Say oil price declines $3 million in my example, the accounting rules say that I have to show a loss on my futures contracts that remain unexpired at the end of the month. So in this case, I have to book a loss for $3 million on my contracts but I also pay $3 million less for my fuel.

So a hedge does not cause a loss or a gain. It is there to make it neutral. When it is a loss or gain that means the airline did not really hedged but speculated on the future price of oil.

You are correct, but when airlines report their numbers at the end of the quarter, that loss is shown. You and I will realize that it's not a "real" loss, but people reading headlines will hear that say Alaska lost $30 million on it's fuel hedges being above the spot price.


User currently offlineRB211 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 632 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8254 times:

No the fees are to play catch up with the money they already lost just like charging $3 for a bottle of water or a bag of almonds.Or better yet $6 for a miniature of vodka. If that were the case then they would charge for carry-ons as well.


Airline photography. Whether they're fully clothed, butt naked, having issues or confused I'm taking pictures!!
User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8709 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8155 times:

Airlines are always in a state of fare war.

"Fuel charge" is a meaningless term... it's part of the airfare. If some airline wants to eliminate it and realign fares, they can do that. There's no rule against making a Mickey Mouse Fan Club charge of $125 if airlines think it is pleasing to them. But after all, they are under the gun trying to fill their seats with flesh and blood. They will price cheap when they need to go cheap.


Most airlines are still walking funny since the fuel prices in 2007-2008 violated them. Their balance sheets are still damaged by that. They are trying to rebuild before launching yet more fare wars. But are they "conspiring" on this, no. They will cut prices down as far as they are able. AirTran is hungry, JetBlue is hungry, and so on. High prices never live long on the American industry. Financial caution is also the word of the day at every company including airlines. They will cut price but they will not change strategies right now.


User currently offlineGr8Circle From Canada, joined Dec 2005, 3124 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 8122 times:



Quoting Mayor (Reply 4):
would imagine that even though the price of fuel has gone down, it hasn't affected most carriers, yet because their hedges are in place at a higher price. Once those hedges run out, then you might see the surcharges dropped.

Yes, but by that time if oil prices go up again, most of these airlines will opt to retain the surcharge, citing high oil prices...even though at that point of time, they may be enjoying fuel prices booked at the current low rates.....


User currently offlineB777a340fan From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 775 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 8088 times:



Quoting RB211 (Reply 12):
No the fees are to play catch up with the money they already lost just like charging $3 for a bottle of water or a bag of almonds.Or better yet $6 for a miniature of vodka. If that were the case then they would charge for carry-ons as well.

So we're basically paying for some idiot's failure to estimate properly....

Hedging is one thing.... I understand that there's a genuine need to charge a fuel surcharge when fuel prices are out of control. But it should be a two way street - not a one way. If prices go down, I expect at least a reduction in fuel surcharges. Or at the very least, own up to the mistakes made and call it what it is... a "poor management surcharge".


User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4123 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 7986 times:
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Quoting B777a340fan (Reply 15):
I understand that there's a genuine need to charge a fuel surcharge when fuel prices are out of control. But it should be a two way street - not a one way. If prices go down, I expect at least a reduction in fuel surcharges.

Be it in the airline industry or any other industry, prices never go down with the same speed or scale as they went up, if they go down at all. Customers scream about being fleeced and raped when prices go up, then they get over it and adjust, suppliers procrastinate, fidget and lie to keep the prices up (in effect increasing their margins) and the people in the middle just pass on the extra costs.

The problem the airlines find themselves in is how to raise their fares while lowering their fuel surcharge, so as to keep the same revenues coming in without being accused of raising ticket prices (which is what they should be doing anyway), and to end (mounting) complaints about their fuel surcharge not being lowered.

Quoting B777a340fan (Reply 15):
Or at the very least, own up to the mistakes made and call it what it is... a "poor management surcharge".

How is it poor management ? Adjusting pricing isn't as easy as updating a spreadsheet, especially when dealing with millions of fares, or hundreds of thousands of SKUs. Should Kellog's be selling their cereals at $2.00 + $1.00 ("recouping losses due to bad harvest" surcharge) + $0.75 ("catching up on increased distribution costs" surcharge) + $0.50 ("cardboard is just so expensive nowadays" fee) ?



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineRB211 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 632 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 7938 times:



Quoting B777a340fan (Reply 15):

So we're basically paying for some idiot's failure to estimate properly....

Hedging is one thing.... I understand that there's a genuine need to charge a fuel surcharge when fuel prices are out of control. But it should be a two way street - not a one way. If prices go down, I expect at least a reduction in fuel surcharges. Or at the very least, own up to the mistakes made and call it what it is... a "poor management surcharge".

You hit the nail right on the head.



Airline photography. Whether they're fully clothed, butt naked, having issues or confused I'm taking pictures!!
User currently offlineGlbltrvlr From United States of America, joined Oct 2007, 767 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7747 times:



Quoting BlueFlyer (Reply 16):
Adjusting pricing isn't as easy as updating a spreadsheet, especially when dealing with millions of fares, or hundreds of thousands of SKUs.

Sure it is. In fact, CRS pricing updates happen 4 times a day for most airlines. And seat quantities in various fare buckets are constantly being played with.

Fuel surcharges and baggage charges were just ways to raise fares in a manner the airlines thought would be more acceptable to their customers than flat out stating they were raising fares. It also made it easier to hide the final price from customers who flew LCCs that didn't surcharge.

For contract fares (which apply to a huge chunk of the business travel market), fuel surcharges are non-discountable, which increases revenue even more. Consider the revenue implications of a base fare of $200, discounted by 25%, but with a $100 fuel surcharge and $50 of bag charges.

It's much the same thing as the cable companies raising prices and blaming it on the cost of gas to run their service trucks. You don't see them lowering prices either now that fuel prices have dropped.


User currently offlineNomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1896 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7706 times:

You pay the price you do for the same reason you always have. Because the service is worth that much to you. Unless you live in a pure socialism the airline is a business and are not there to charge what you think is a "fair" price. They're there to charge what the market thinks is fair.
If you're paying more than the ticket is worth, ask yourself why you're paying that much.



Andy Goetsch
User currently offlineCharles79 From Puerto Rico, joined Mar 2007, 1331 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7664 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 19):
If you're paying more than the ticket is worth, ask yourself why you're paying that much.

That's a fair statement.

To add to the conversation, I understand that some airlines (if not most or all) are still recovering from the exorbitant fuel prices of last summer. The problem they encountered was that a big chunk of the flying public during the summer months had purchased their tickets way in advance so the prices that were charged didn't account for the hike in fuel. The airlines can't charge more once they already sold you the ticket so they resorted to charging for baggage (and notice how they didn't apply to folks with advance ticket purchases) and adding a fuel surcharge for future bookings. Some have already recouped the lost revenue and dropped the fuel surcharge (VS and AF are two examples if I'm not mistaken) but several airlines are still trying to claw back the lost ground.

Ultimately Nomadd22 has it right, though. In a free market the price of a good is how much a customer is willing to pay for that good. No one can force you to pay their prices so if you don't like it then book with someone else, or take a bus, a train, a ship, or rent a car.


User currently offlineB777a340fan From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 775 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 7565 times:



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 19):
If you're paying more than the ticket is worth, ask yourself why you're paying that much.

I can buy that argument. I'm not only paying for a means to get across the pond, but also for the efficiency and the security that comes along with it. But still, my theory is if some airlines can do away without a fuel surcharge, others can as well. The whole fuel cost is such old news.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25871 posts, RR: 22
Reply 22, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 7364 times:



Quoting B777a340fan (Reply 21):
Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 19):
If you're paying more than the ticket is worth, ask yourself why you're paying that much.


I can buy that argument. I'm not only paying for a means to get across the pond, but also for the efficiency and the security that comes along with it. But still, my theory is if some airlines can do away without a fuel surcharge, others can as well. The whole fuel cost is such old news.

Fares on all airlines are very competitive. I stopped paying any attention to fuel surcharges a long time ago. The only meaningful number is the total including fare//surcharges/fees/taxes etc. Fortunately, in Eurpoe that's what airlines are required to advertise and sell.


User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13440 posts, RR: 100
Reply 23, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 7210 times:
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Quoting Charles79 (Reply 20):
In a free market the price of a good is how much a customer is willing to pay for that good. No one can force you to pay their prices so if you don't like it then book with someone else, or take a bus, a train, a ship, or rent a car.

Or sadly, people will chose not to fly.

Or a competitor will open up the route with lower overall costs.

I do not mind fuel surcharges per se. But when I click on a ticket price, it should be for the full cost.

Its going to be interesting ahead. The airlines are scrambling for revenue.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 22):
The only meaningful number is the total including fare//surcharges/fees/taxes etc. Fortunately, in Eurpoe that's what airlines are required to advertise and sell.

I wish it was the case in the US. Oh, break it down... but advertise the price one must pay.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineStil From Spain, joined Apr 2006, 345 posts, RR: 6
Reply 24, posted (5 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6563 times:

Hi.

Let's play with an example. The ticket I bought says I'm charged EUR 35.00 due fuel price. I flew an Airbus 321 from Madrid to Rome (flight time 2:20) with a capacity of 200 passengers. So the whole aircraft means a fuel income of 7.000 EUR. Well I don't know about aviation fuel fares nor fuel comsumptions, but I think it's too much. I'm sure 1 kg of av fuel costs below 1EUR and an A321 won't burn 7000 kg of fuel on a Madrid-Rome route for sure..... so somebody is making money with this surcharge, if you want to call it that way.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 22):
The only meaningful number is the total including fare//surcharges/fees/taxes etc

I remember when companies said they were not going to increase fares due high fuel fares, but they will add a surcharge. It's the same thing; but answering to the thread starter, I don't know. The scenario that caused total ticket price increasing has disappeared, not like its consequences.

Stil



....... Gueropppa! ......
25 EBGflyer : Note the surcharge was introduced to cover the extra expenses due to the rising fuel prices. I suppose we don't by tickets to a plane with an empty f
26 MilesDependent : This seems to come up every few days. 2 reasons: 1. Airlines hedged their fuel and are probably paying a lot more than market price 2. Airlines are RE
27 Aircellist : I have the feeling that merchants, when they are "forced" by whatever supply reason to raise price, check whether customers will continue to purchase
28 Access-Air : Im a Travel Agent and Issued a couple if international tickets lately..... Here's the linear fare from Chicago to Banjul, Gambia: CHI SN X/E/BRU SN BJ
29 B4REAL : It is not fuel hedging, but sticky pricing. The one justification from the airlines side is that when prices escalated, the fuel-price related price
30 Aerokiwi : Right. But what we see now is collapsing demand worldwide. So logically airlines will have to reduce fares, including the fuel "surcharge" (a nonsens
31 Flighty : Interesting point. Let's go with that for a minute. To hold prices above minimum, every airline needs to "cooperate" in the project. Not just legacie
32 MSYPI7185 : Hedges are only part of the reason that there are still fuel surcharges. The refineries have been caught behind the 8 ball so to speak. The refineries
33 REALDEAL : in other words airlines took a gamble that price wouldn't drop & they lost. I'm not going to pay because some moron at some airline locked them into
34 B4REAL : I'd almost think we'd soon see joint hedges - like the new DL along with YX, HA and AS - maybe a big airline and some others that are really non-comp
35 Robsaw : Your explanation is full of contradictions. A hedge can consist of many types of future provisions, which can and do create real and paper losses. Un
36 Glbltrvlr : You would think so, wouldn't you? The problem is that businesses (not just the airlines) have discovered that "complicated" pricing is better than si
37 Post contains links GolfBravoRomeo : With cargo the surcharge is usually tied to index based on the average price of jet fuel. It's clearly spelled out. See http://www.baworldcargo.com/su
38 Geo772 : Some of the fuel surcharge argument comes the advertising of air fares. Depending where you are in the world will depend on how fares are advertised.
39 SANFan : I like the way at least one of the cruise lines is handling the fuel situation. Their new policy is that fuel surcharges are gone but subject to re-in
40 MMEPHX : because it has nothing to do with the price of fuel, it was a bogus sham put about by the airlines as they didn't want to raise fares to cover the re
41 Post contains links Elite : Cathay Pacific posted huge losses due to fuel hedges yet recently they cut fuel surcharges by around 44%. http://www.traveldailynews.com/pages/show_pa
42 Flying Belgian : Am I right in saying that most of the airlines are now burning an hedged fuel of around 80$ a barrel ? At least well run airlines, as LOT Polish Airli
43 DavidYYC : This is a total sham. I just paid $900 for a return YYC-LHR, $300 of which is fuel surcharge. I disagree with the concept of "fuel surcharges" its stu
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