Southwest leads the way in raising fares

Fare hikes start with one airline and they spread to others. This time, major airlines are raising fares on short hop flights because Southwest Airlines led the way when it raised fares by $5 each way on routes of less than 500 miles.

U.S. Airways, Delta, United and American Airlines didn't waste time matching that fare increase.

Virgin America also raised its fares but only on routes where it competes with Southwest. They include flights from San Francisco to San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Airlines say they need to raise fares to cover higher operating expenses especially for fuel.

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