9-25-17 6:10 PM EDT | Email Article

By Kari Paul, MarketWatch

Despite complaints, price surges are often glitches caused by computer systems.

Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin amassed more than 60,000 likes on an Instagram post complaining about fare hikes on American Airlines (AAL) plane tickets to his home country on Monday, making a round trip from San Juan to Miami $2,249. "This is not right," he wrote. "We are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis."


Others made similar complaints (https://twitter.com/Class1989/status/910164770971676672) on social media, but American Airlines claims fares to and from Puerto Rico had been capped at $99 for main cabin seats and $199 for premium cabins through Oct. 1. The fares Martin was seeing must have been outside that date range or not direct flights, a spokesman from American Airlines told MarketWatch. Martin did not respond to request for comment. George Hobica, founder of flight booking site Airfarewatchdog.com, previously told MarketWatch (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jetblue-and-delta-offer-special-pricing-to-people-fleeing-hurricane-irma-2017-09-06) that price increases following Hurricane Irma were likely not intentional.

"I don't think airlines would be callous or stupid enough to be consciously jacking up fares," he said. "If there's any gouge, it's just the last minute walk-up airfares that are designed for desperate business fliers."

American Airlines resumed its flights to Puerto Rico on Monday, which had been suspended since Hurricane Irma. JetBlue (JBLU) is operating relief flights to the country on a limited basis at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and waiving checked bag fees. These humanitarian flights are capped at $135 between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland for travel through Oct. 7. From Oct. 8 through Nov. 15, one-way fares between the U.S. and Puerto Rico are capped at $199. Delta (DAL) has limited the number of flights to 10 per day following the hurricane and has capped main cabin one-way fares from Puerto Rico to the U.S (http://news.delta.com/flying-out-puerto-rico-what-delta-customers-need-know). at $199. It is also sending relief flights carrying water, generators and other supplies (http://news.delta.com/relief-flight-offers-help-puerto-rico-more-supplies-coming-week) to the storm-battered country. Southwest Airlines (LUV) also lowered its prices in response to the hurricane.

"As a baseline, we never charge change fees and we haven't changed our pricing structures -- we certainly have not implemented any fare increases," a spokesman said.

Other airlines are not operating in the country due to infrastructure damage there. United Airlines has limited travel to Puerto Rico to one humanitarian flight per day.

"Conditions on the ground are tenuous and challenged by a lack of power, transportation and hotel," a spokesman from United Airlines (UAL) said. "We're continuing to work hand-in-hand with our aid partners in Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian relief supplies and resources."

-Kari Paul; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-25-17 1810ET

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