Airlines Accused of Jacking Up Flight Costs as Hurricane Irma Approaches

Hurricane Irma hasn’t touched the South Florida coast yet — but storm-related looting may already be happening.

As the Atlantic Ocean’s strongest hurricane ever recorded approaches, airlines are being accused of jacking-up domestic flight costs to the point that desperate Floridians may have to auction off a car or take out a small loan if they wish to leave before the storm touches down.

For United Airlines, ticket costs have shot up to as much as $6,300 for someone taking the relatively short trip from Miami to Atlanta in economy class — a flight that would be a fraction of that price during other times of the year, per Fox News’ John Roberts:

Another outrageous ticket cost was documented via Twitter courtesy of Delta — though, this exact flight is no longer listed on the airline’s website:

Thousands of Floridians are reportedly attempting to escape the predicted path of destruction of the now Category 5 hurricane. Florida governor Rick Scott even declared a state of emergency, while the mayor of Miami-Dade county has called for people to leave the area as soon as possible.

Though price gouging during a state of emergency, like Hurricane Irma, is technically illegal in Florida, airlines are able to work around the law as they are regulated by federal entities — not states. With this loophole in place, airlines have the capability to dramatically increase flight costs. To fight against this, the state’s attorney general established a hotline specifically designed to combat all price gouging via active reporting.

However, despite the loophole, one airline is taking an opposite route  — JetBlue opted to set a cost cap for those who wish to escape the hurricane’s path. The airline set a max cost of $159 for all flights leaving Florida, according to Yahoo News.

Dramatic transportation costs were covered by Jake Tapper today on his show The Lead (video above), as CNN reported the Department of Transportation has received “a lot of [price gouging] complaints.” However, the CNN report indicated that airlines are chalking this issue up to algorithms that dictate costs based on supply and demand — meaning, these pricey tickets are no different than any other last minute flights on a busy, travel-heavy weekend.

Price gouging isn’t today’s only negative airline coverage however, as United’s highly publicized passenger dragging was rehashed when the airline managed to evade a federal fine for the incident.

[image via screengrab]

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Caleb Ecarma was a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma