It seems like the cost of everything related to air travel is going up. And while price increases for fuel are expected, other, less common aspects of flying are getting more expensive as well. Let’s take a look at four things, other than oil, making the cost of flying soar.
The price of in-flight meals and snacks will likely increase in 2014 as the price of food continues to rise. While some food prices have kept pace with inflation, others like fresh fruit and nuts continue to skyrocket with no light at the end of the runway.
The Department of Agriculture reports that the price of fresh fruit increased 5% in March compared to the same time last year. This price hike was primarily driven by the 7.4% increase in citrus fruit prices caused by extreme weather in California and Florida in 2013. Passengers seeking citrus will likely see the price of their fruit parfaits and side fruit salads offered in flight and at airports raised to account for these growing costs.
However, passengers may not even have the option to pay for limes as some airlines have grounded the fruit all together. Floods and unrest in Mexico, where most of the limes in America are grown, has resulted in shortages. Combined with the ongoing drought in California, in-flight drinks will need to depend on lemons for the foreseeable future.
The price of nuts found in in-flight snacks is also taking a beating with low crop yields and high demand. Airlines will likely continue to replace these ingredients with cheaper alternatives like pretzels rather than pass the cost onto passengers.
Vegetables however, have seen prices drop 4.6% since last year so perhaps crudité and hummus will land on a tray table soon.
The first quarter of 2014 was filled with weather-related flight delays and cancellations, costing customers time and money, and costing airlines much needed revenue. According to USA Today, JetBlue lost $50 million in revenue due to cancelled flights and United Airlines reported a Q1 loss as a result of their 35,000 flight cancellations. While the industry’s tight control over costs allowed most airlines to see profits despite increased flight cancellations, passengers may ultimately pay more as airlines raise fares to account for the expected lost revenue resulting from weather related flight cancellations. Travel insurance may also become more expensive as weather continues to become more erratic and extreme in the future.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 may have ended the sequester, but the Paul-Ryan-Patty-Murray deal, as it is also known, doubled TSA passenger security tax. “In FY 2013, U.S. airlines and passengers paid $2.3 billion in federal taxes and fees to TSA,” wrote Airlines for America spokesperson, Jean Medina in an email to Fox News, “a 100% increase from the amount collected in 2002.” While industry experts doubt the additional $5.60 for a round trip flight will impact purchasing decisions, it’s another way airline passengers are paying more to travel today.
Fallout from Malaysian Flight 370
As the search for the missing Malaysian Flight continues, many expect governments and airlines to step up their security screenings and safety measures to prevent another lengthy search in the future. The costs are unclear, as are which, if any, will be passed onto the customer.
As prices continuing to rise, airline passengers don’t necessarily have to pay more. Frontier Airlines recently announced a la carte pricing where customers will “only pay for the services [they] will use, rather than including them in the price of [the] fare," explained Frontier CEO David Siegel. Options like these may become more prevalent as customers look for ways to keep their costs from taking to the skies.