BY MARY FRANCIS MASSON • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER • September 28, 2008
As jet fuel prices sent airlines on a stomach-churning ride, spurring new fees and higher prices, Southwest Airlines customers have had a smoother trip.
Southwest, the second-biggest carrier at Detroit Metro's new North Terminal, took a gamble on fuel purchasing that has paid off for consumers. It's been able to keep fare increases much lower than those of most carriers because it locked in jet fuel prices before crude oil skyrocketed to almost $150 a barrel earlier this year.
That protection is likely to wear off a bit in 2009, but many analysts say the Dallas-based airline's strong financial position will allow it to remain one of the cheapest deals for travelers.