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Air Fare Question

Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:00 pm

Just a quick background...On 05/30/11, I had to make an emergency trip from AUS-BWI due to a family emergency. First, I looked online at the legacies, and the average fare was $900-$1300 RT. I called one of the carriers by phone, who offered the "family care" price at $880. The funny thing was, I saw a flight from AUS-SBY for $560!!! Pretty awesome for less then a days notice. Needless to say, I had forgotten all about my accrued mileage. However, while attempting to use those miles, that flight was not offered. That carrier with that flight I wanted offered a 3-stop, (all stops had connections) trip. Another carrier wanted me to fly from AUS-LAX-BWI. The same carrier than offered the SAT-DEN-BWI, so obviously, I drove the extra 100 miles to avoid flying halfway across the country, then back all the way across.

I know it was Memorial Day and maybe not a typical load day, but the one thing I did notice was the difference in fares from one day to the next while checking internet fares. On 05/31/11, that AUS-SBY went up to almost $1500. The next day, it was back down to $580, and again, the day after that, it was over $2000. How can there be such a HUGE price difference from day to day? Again, I know the holiday may have something to do with it, but that much difference? Is it load factors? Is it because of the weekend coming?

I'm not that saavy on how and why the pricing works, so anyones explanation would be appreciated.
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RE: Air Fare Question

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:22 pm

Seems pretty crazy, doesn't it? Airline pricing models are very sophisticated, to the point of being nonsensical at first glance, and if you take time to explore lots of options as you seem to have done, you can usually do well. That's sort of the point...the person who just MUST fly into a certain airport at the last minute, typically a business traveler, will pay loads to do it. Someone who is flexible can pay less by flying on off-peak times and using less-desirable airports.

Quoting BWI5OH (Thread starter):
I called one of the carriers by phone, who offered the "family care" price at $880.

Not too bad for full-Y fare, meaning you can make all sorts of last-minute changes and will likely be exempt from bag fees, etc.

As for SBY... again it comes down to the business/leisure price discrimination thing. Small airports like that tend to have mostly business traffic, which plummets on holiday weekends. This means you might get a great deal last minute. Look at it this Sunday night for a Monday departure and I'll bet it's $2k.

Quoting BWI5OH (Thread starter):
However, while attempting to use those miles, that flight was not offered.

The whole idea behind award tickets is that they are going to give away seats that they don't think will be sold. Therefore award tickets will not be offered on all flights, and if they are, the number of miles required will be very high. This is why carriers can afford to give you lots of miles and sell lots of miles to credit card companies...they're not anticipating losing out on much revenue when they're redeemed. Look at it as a win-win for both parties.

Not sure if this clears anything up for you...if you are really interested in airline economics I highly suggest "Straight and Level" by Stephen Holloway.

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