Little evidence of airline price gouging as Irma approaches

We’re suspicious of the growing online claims that the nation’s airlines are gouging people trying to escape Hurricane Irma.

So far, the only evidence of it happening are occasional tweets claiming the airlines are charging thousands of dollars for seats out of the region.

But try booking a few flights online and it’s not hard to find reaasonable fares at all.

One tweet last evening claimed Delta was charging $6,000 for a flight to Phoenix. When we tried to book one for this morning, we found it at about $500.

That’s steep, for sure. But it’s still cheaper than the usual walk-up fares.

This morning, we found a Delta flight from Palm Beach to Minneapolis St. Paul at a fraction of the usual fare.

Attempts to buy one-way tickets failed, but $400 for a roundtrip flight halfway across the country? That’s petty cash in the airline fare category.

But the price gouging stories are circulating, as the case of John Lyon, of Connecticut, shows. He tried to book a flight for this afternoon from Miami to Hartford for his daughter’s roommate and found American Airlines charging $1,000. A day earlier, he’d bought a ticket for his daughter for $159.

But look what happens when we searched for flights on that route through one of the third-party sites.

Perhaps mindful of the circulating stories, Jet Blue has capped its non-stop flights out of Florida at $99, with connecting flights going for $159.

The bigger problem now is getting a seat at all.

Want to come to Minneapolis St. Paul from Fort Lauderdale on Southwest? Forget it. You can’t get here from there.

The next available flight is early Sunday morning (about the time Irma will have already arrived). It’ll cost only $150.