VERIFY: Are airlines price gouging people flying out of Florida?

No. It's a combination of a surge in demand and limited seats left. Also, any time of the year, a ticket booked day-of will be triple normal fare prices.

QUESTION:

Are airlines price-gouging people flying out of Florida?

ANSWER:

No. It's a combination of a surge in demand and limited seats left. Also, any time of the year, a ticket booked day-of will be triple normal fare prices.

SOURCES:

Pat Blassie, President- Altair Travel

Seth Kaplan, Managing Partner- Airline Weekly

Bureau of Transportation Statistics- Department of Transportation

David Smallen, Director of Public Affairs- Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Kathy Grannis Allen, Managing Director, Airline Industry Public Relations, Communications- Airlines for America 

Emily Nipps, Senior Manager, Communications- Tampa International Airport

Jet Blue Airlines

Southwest Airlines

American Airlines

Delta Airlines

PROCESS:

With Hurricane Irma looming off the shore of South Florida, people are preemptively booking flights for themselves and loved ones. The price is leaving many of them feeling disgruntled. 

One-way flights from Tampa to Reagan National Airport averaged at $938. For Thursday flights were costing as much as $1,260, and for Friday the going rate was around $573, according to Kayak numbers.

During the same time period in 2016, flights cost $324.28, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Viewers are wondering: Are airlines taking advantage of those fleeing Hurricane Irma's path by spiking the price?

Verify researchers went directly to airlines for the truth.

Southwest, Delta, American and Jet Blue all contend there's no gouging going on. They are working in hyper-drive to get Floridians to safety, adding flights and swapping out scheduled planes to upsize to larger aircrafts.

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Historically, hefty price tags are typical for travelers booking day-of and next-day flights.

"The fare structure hasn't changed it's just that most of us usually have the luxury of buying in advance and aren't exposed to these kind of prices," said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly. "Whoever had to get a last-minute to Chicago knows it can cost a whole lot of money."

VERIFY: Have the last 4 major hurricanes in U.S. history all made landfall on the same date?

Travel expert Pat Blassie, President of Altair Travel, echoed Kaplan, saying it's the basic price model for airlines.

Besides booking late, airlines have limited seats available. 

Tampa International Airport has no plans on closing at this time, according to Emily Nipps, communications senior manager.

For Tampa residents still looking to flee by air—even those willing to pay upward of $2,000—time is running out.

"It's very hard to book a flight right now," Nipps said. "It's almost impossible."

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© 2017 WUSA-TV


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