Less competition could mean higher prices for airline tickets. That is the main concern with yesterday’s AP report that United Airlines and US Airways are discussing a merger. Talks are only in the preliminary stages, but much discussion is taking place within the industry as to how a merger would affect air travelers.
A United – US Airways merger would create the second largest U.S. carrier after Delta Airlines, which became number one after the purchase of Northwest in 2008. These types of mergers reduce competition which isn’t always in the best interest of the passenger. Less competition means less of a need for airlines to offer lower prices to attract the business of travelers.
Tim Winship, editor of FrequentFlier.com, worries that the policies of US Airways would be the ones to survive should a merger occur; policies that have not been very traveler-friendly when compared to other airlines. For example, the airline gave away 4 percent of seats to frequent fliers last year which is only half the rate of those offered by other major airlines such as United, American and Southwest.
With talks just barely beginning passengers have no reason to worry at the moment. However, how a merger like this could affect the ability to travel at an affordable price is something to consider. Determining if a merger would influence pricing is still a long way off. According to Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, it will be another year before the long term changes in ticket pricing due to the Delta – Northwest merger are evident.
Lori Rice is a freelance health and travel writer, and Galavanting travel news and reviews correspondent. You can follow her adventures at 3 Star Traveler or explore her thoughts as a nutritionist, wellness advocate and foodie traveler at Fake Food Free.