In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fuel shortage, airlines already are raising fares:

U.S. airlines have begun raising airfares nationwide to offset jet-fuel prices that soared more than 20 percent in the past few days after Hurricane Katrina barreled into the Gulf Coast, crippling oil refineries and severely disrupting U.S. energy supplies. United Airlines, the largest carrier in Denver, made the first move, boosting its round-trip ticket prices by $10 to $30 late Wednesday. Delta largely matched the increase, while other large airlines said they were studying similar moves. Denver-based Frontier Airlines and some other discount carriers initiated smaller price hikes of their own.

Experts recommend flyers shop around before buying a ticket as there may still be bargains. One of my favorites is SideStep, the traveler’s search engine. It offers comparisons among all the airlines.