OPINION: Airline prices soar

(Graphic by Catherine Eldridge)

Many Americans are familiar with the vile atrocities committed on airlines in recent decades, so much so that security is of utmost importance when utilizing this time-efficient transport. 

Today we face a threat that has consistantly persisted, discriminating against no one and serving only itself. This threat is known as “optimal monopoly pricing.” Without proper castigation, monopolized capitalism will remain a significant monetary menace to all Kansas State students, staff and Manhattan locals traveling out of state for the holidays.

American Airlines is the only public airline flying to and out of Manhattan Regional Airport (MHK), apart from Linear Air — a private airline company. American Airlines is readily inflating its costs to produce an absurd profit, about three to five times more than their standard seat rates. Some tickets in the late November timeframe range from $600 to upwards of $1,000. This is unfortunate for students who have no other mode of transportation to their desired destinations.

Linear Air is by no means sounder in any financial sense, as some of their flights in November surpass $10,000 for a non-direct flight. Despite being a private airline, the enormous costs seen at American Airlines have many looking to Linear Air as their salvation from these excessive prices. However, neither of the only two airlines running through Manhattan Regional Airport (MHK) seem to be selling fair prices for the holidays, leaving many in panicked disarray.

Meanwhile, Kansas City International Airport (MCI) charges approximately $150 to $350 for airfares when flying Southwest Airlines, an unmistakably better alternative to such piggish upcharges seen in Manhattan. Due to this, it would appear as though the only common denominator for these runaway prices would be Manhattan Regional Airport.

Philip Gayle, K-State economic professor and department head, conducts economic research on airline industry competition. He said the issue is the result of higher air travel demand.

“Pricing would likely look different if there were multiple airlines operating out of MHK,” Gayle said. “The problem is that at Regional Airports like MHK, the typical level of demand during non-holiday periods is often just below what is sufficient to sustain profitable operations of two or more airlines.”

Despite higher demand as a likely explanation for the rising airfare prices around the holiday season, the prices today are listed at inflated prices as well, leaving many impacted.

For those planning on flying home this Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is advisable to hitch a ride to Kansas City International Airport and depart from there. Doing so may help save hundreds, if not thousands, in unnecessarily spent dollars. In light of this information, hopefully, most at K-State can escape the chaos of economic subservience they would ultimately have to tolerate at MHK this holiday season.