In a move that will almost certainly anger business travellers, United Airlines will require a 1-3 night stay on domestic flights beginning in October:
I can remember my dad hopping on a jet in the early AM and returning in time to sit down with the family for dinner. Now that option will be a much more expensive proposition.
The second-largest U.S. carrier said the moves are among a number of changes it is making to combat record high fuel prices. The Chicago-based airline has been among the most aggressive in the industry in pushing fares and fuel surcharges higher in recent months, and its latest policy could prompt other carriers to consider following suit.
Starting Oct. 6, most United fares will require a one- to three-night or weekend-night minimum stay, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.
The new rules, which apply to nearly every ticket, are bound to be unpopular with business travelers who prefer to catch a flight out early in the morning so they can make it back home in time for dinner.
Major carriers scrapped most minimum-stay rules - put in place largely to discourage big-budget corporate travelers from snatching up the cheapest seats - years ago, although a number of airlines have been tightening up restrictions and tacking on fees in recent months as the price of fuel has soared.
United joined with other carriers to charge $15 for the privilege of bringing your luggage along with you when you fly (why not just charge people to seat their luggage next to them?) so this move isn't entirely unexpected. And you've got to feel for these companies - at least in a small way. The domestic airline industry has never recovered from 9/11.
And with moves like this, it will be longer still.