Airlines cap prices ahead of Irma amid accusations of price gouging
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) —
As Irma closes in on Florida, residents are scrambling to get out.
Millions of Floridians have been ordered to evacuate, and flights are in high demand.
“The reality is there just aren't enough planes to get people out,” said Tim Howes, a finance professor at Johnson and Wales University.
The seats that are left are skyrocketing in price.
Viewer Dominque Bouchard sent NBC 10 News a screenshot of a $1,200 price hike overnight, while other travelers have reportedly shelled out more than $3,000 to get out of Florida.
“Once people rushed to get those last seats, the computers will automatically increase pricing,” said Howes.
Howes said airline computers are setting prices based on limited supply and huge demand.
But that’s changing, thanks to a compassionate move by JetBlue airlines Wednesday.
“I think JetBlue did it -- they looked at it and calculated and said, 'Is goodwill worth more than the additional revenue we'd see?' And I think that's absolutely true,” said Howes.
JetBlue is capping direct flights out of Florida at $99; connecting fares will cost travelers no more than $159 through September 13th.
It's a move that puts other airlines on the hot seat. In fact, Howes said he's already seen several flight prices drop.
“It's a business decision, it's a great one, and some of the other airlines like Delta, Air Canada and American have followed suit,” said Howes.
Floridians are also reporting price gouging on important supplies like gasoline and water. Fortunately, many customers are reporting these incidents and exposing shifty retailers.