Unwanted Saturday Night Stays are Back

We all know that airlines are having a rough go of it, with fuel costs and declining profits. The latest salvo against the consumer has brought back a terrible trend we had hoped was gone forever–that dreaded ‘Saturday Night Stay.”

Airlines realize that business travelers, the ones without the ability to pick and choose flights, are their bread and butter. Since many of these frequent flyer warriors want to be home on the weekends, they’ll pay the higher fares.  But it’s not only business travelers who are facing new hurdles.  The new minimum stay is becoming three nights, according to a recent survey by Harrell Associates, who found nearly 87% of round-trip flights on 280 routes had  this restriction.

This is the second time in recent months this pain-in-the-ass three night restriction has been put in place. Earlier this year United and other airlines backed down in the face of the steep competition airlines face in domestic fares. At that time they admitted they couldn’t make it stick, but fell back on the old Saturday night stay instead.

It comes down to the fact that these restrictions more evenly divide the flying public. There are the leisure travelers who go for the lowest fares, and the business travelers, who will if they have to, stay over. The hotel industry must be clapping right now.