Airline passengers face high ticket prices amid Southwest flight cancellations

As this week’s wave of flight cancellations led by Southwest Airlines continues, other major carriers have announced they will institute price caps, particularly in cities where Southwest operates, to limit the financial burden on stranded travelers trying to reach to their destinations.

Among the airlines that have announced price caps are American, United and Delta Air Lines, all of which said they would cap fares in all markets where Southwest operates, through Jan. 2.

But despite those announcements, airfare data shows that prices to and from many affected destinations remain very high.

Google’s flight data shows one-way travel from airports such as Nashville International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport, and Chicago Midway International Airport, all Southwest hubs, showing prices increasing over the next few days.

For example, a one-way ticket from Nashville to Denver International Airport, two hubs hit hard by this week’s flight cancellations, departing Thursday starts at $899.

One-way flight from Washington DC to Los Angeles International Airport departing on Thursday starts at $1,527.

Many travelers have expressed their frustration over extraordinarily high airfares on social media.

Suzanne Durham, a Nashville-based music industry professional, had spent Christmas in Boston and was scheduled to return home Monday via Southwest. After her original flight was cancelled, she was able to rebook another flight on Southwest that would leave later in the week, but she had a feeling that flight would be canceled as well.

So he decided to book an additional flight on American Airlines for more than $900, he said.

“When I was booking that flight, I couldn’t believe it was so expensive,” Durham said in a follow-up interview. She said American did not specify what class the ticket was in and it turned out to be business class.

“It wasn’t even first class,” Durham said. “They are absolutely price gouging in my opinion.”

Durham expressed his frustrations on Twitter Monday, saying an American Airlines representative responded by noting that “fares depend on some destinations.”

A representative for American Airlines pointed out to NBC News a buried tweet in response to a user who said select cities would see price caps. The representative declined to share any further details.

Other flyers shared similar stories on Twitter about much higher fees.

A representative for the US Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview with NextStar Media on TuesdayTransportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg applauded airlines for instituting price caps.

“No one should take advantage of the situation,” Buttigieg said, though he acknowledged that the department may have limited legal authority to substantially address the situation.

“We really hope that the airlines will go beyond the legal minimum and do the right thing here,” he said.

“It shouldn’t take an enforcement action from our department to get people to take care of them or get their money back.”

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