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United Airlines demonstrates what happens when pricing power gets out of control

Just when you thought flying couldn't get any worse United punishes you for going anywhere.

I posted last week on Oracle's clever but annoying move of raising prices so they could discount and still maintain margins. Today I saw that United is raising prices AND requiring an overnight stay--the bane of the business traveler. This royal pain will start in October and remind us all how much we hate to fly.

Taking an economic view of the situation, I think we all understand that fuel prices have gone through the roof and that affects United dramatically. But I would think that it makes a great deal more sense to pack the planes full (for example on same-day trips) than it does to force travelers to stay overnight.

How long passengers have to stay under United's new minimum-stay policy will depend on the destinations involved, the price of the ticket and the length of the flight.

For example, travelers booking the cheapest seats between Chicago and Minneapolis or Boston and San Diego will now be forced to stay three nights or the entire weekend, Urbanski said.

Is it just me, or does this seem completely insane?