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Price Gouging Hits Florida Ahead of Hurricane Irma

Sep 06, 2017

Hurricane Harvey brought out the best in many Houstonians, but Hurricane Irma seems to be having the opposite effect on some Florida businesses.

Complaints of price gouging are on the rise in the Sunshine State, reaching the point where Attorney General Pam Bondi has activated a hotline to report businesses suspected of taking advantage of people preparing for the storm. As of Tuesday afternoon, the hotline had received 143 calls.

Some national companies have been caught in the fray as well. Amazon was the subject of some complaints about notable price differences on bottled water for customers in Florida and Northeastern states. (A Fortune spot check of prices on bottled water sold directly by the company in New York, South Carolina and Florida did not show notable price differences, however.)

Some of the biggest complaints have been targeted at airlines, though. Yahoo News spoke with one customer who paid $159 for an American Airlines ticket from Miami to Hartford, CT on Monday, then saw the price spike to $1,020 the next day, when he tried to buy another ticket.

Very bad job by American Airlines. Booked a one-way ticket last night for my daughter to come home this Thursday night...

Posted by John Lyons on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The airline, in a statement, said it had "not changed" its fare structures and had added extra flights to affected areas.

Delta, too, is finding itself the target of online wrath as ticket prices soared.

A search of airfares using IRA Matrix to a variety of locations, including Atlanta, Phoenix and New York does show notably higher fares for the next three days, though it's common for airlines to charge last minute flyers more.

The cheapest price for a flight from Miami to NYC (with a four day stay) this Friday, however, is $985. That same flight on the 15th will cost just $159.

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