aviateur
Topic Author
Posts: 562
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:25 am

Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:53 am

All right, we can all agree that flying is, on the whole, inexpensive. It wasn't that long ago when only wealthier people could afford to fly.

In 1939 it cost the equivalent of over $6,000 for a round-trip ticket between New York and France. On my bookshelf at home is an old American Airlines ticket receipt. It’s a flea market find dating from 1946. That year, somebody named James Connors paid $334 to fly each direction between Ireland and New York. That’s equal to $3,690 today—one way! The real cost of air travel—the price of a ticket adjusted for inflation—has fallen sharply in the years since deregulation. Between 2005 and 2010, with airlines struggling and fuel prices soaring, the average economy class fare was the cheapest it had ever been.

Duly noted. But long-haul premium class fares are often very expensive. Tonight, a friend of mine is flying business class on Qatar Airways from JFK to Mumbai. For fun, I went to Kayak.com and priced her trip, JFK-BOM-JFK, in QR business class. For dates I chose a week from now, returning a week later.

The price I got was $7713. Almost eight thousand dollars.

Then I went and priced the same route, on the same dates, in Emirates, except I went with first class. The round-trip fare: $19,655.

And Kayak was quick to tell me that “only one seat is still available at this price.”

So my questions are:

First, who are these people who have the money to be flying around in first and business class on prestigious airlines like QR and EK? I understand that many, if not most premium class passengers are traveling on company expense accounts, mileage upgrades, etc., and do not pay full fare, but still. Twenty thousand dollars for an airline ticket?

My second question is: what is the most expensive airline ticket out there? Prices change, I realize, day to day and even minute to minute, but I’m wondering what the single most expensive fare we can find might be. Singapore-New York, perhaps, in Singapore Airlines first class, on a walk-up purchase?


PS
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
SonomaFlyer
Posts: 1881
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:47 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:22 am

The passengers or their companies or their clients pay those fares for J and F class for the passenger to arrive alert, refreshed and ready to do business. Some are the very rich for whom a walk-up first class ticket isn't a big deal.

There aren't nearly as many folks paying for F class as in the past hence the shrink in the size of that cabin on many airlines and the reduction in aircraft which have F class.

As far as the most expensive fare, I've seen fares above $25,000 one-way between SFO and CPT or JNB. Last minute trips of that length can be that expensive.
 
Tupolev160
Posts: 405
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:07 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:26 am

Fares in/to/from: Africa, central Asia, the Caucasus and South America are the most expensive in the world by km. flown. (Note by curiosity that EZE-MAD is twice the price of EZE-MAD-EZE - to prevent immigration they say.) Add to that countries that see low airline competition such as Myanmar.

First/business are mostly flown by people on company's behalf and mileage redeem (in the US for instance there are some excellent credit card mileage award programs). Those are almost absent in Eastern Europe. Extra rich people fly in their own jets.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
 
RamblinMan
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:02 am

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
First, who are these people who have the money to be flying around in first and business class on prestigious airlines like QR and EK?

There are an estimated 95,000 people on this planet with net worth in excess of $30 million. There will be at least one more after tonight's lotto drawing. Your average international F cabin has only 8-10 seats. There's a market for this kind of thing.

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
My second question is: what is the most expensive airline ticket out there?

In terms of what? Just the nominal ticket price? Or perhaps most expensive on a per mile basis? We could have some fun with this.
 
Sean-SAN-
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2002 4:02 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:11 am

Most large companies have a pre-negotiated discount on F/C in the area of 35-50% off the normal fare price. High wealth pax have access to exclusive travel services and agents that can get similar discounts or that can secure instant upgrades
 
flyguy89
Posts: 1948
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:43 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:50 am

Quoting SonomaFlyer (Reply 1):
I've seen fares above $25,000 one-way between SFO and CPT or JNB.

Geez! At what point would it actually become cheaper just to charter a private jet?

Quoting RamblinMan (Reply 3):

There are an estimated 95,000 people on this planet with net worth in excess of $30 million.

But would those people really be flying commercial? I would think if you have $30+ million to your name, you probably have a private plane or could at least afford to charter one.
 
timpdx
Posts: 578
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:54 am

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:08 am

I find that base fares within South America are about the biggest rip off for flyers out there in the world. I have flown similar stage lengths on FR in Europe or B6 in the states that are easily 10-12 times the fare down in South America advanced booking. Little 40 minute hop Montevideo to either Buenos Aires airport is triple he longer advanced booking fares between LA and SF.($60 or so)

And I have not really found Central Asia to be terrible. Did LAX to TAS one way for about a grand and on to SVO for $300 or so. My RIX-KBP flight was a hundred dollars or so. I'm going to Myanmar in two weeks out of SIN and it really isn't much more than Bali, a somewhat similar distance.

I would add that inter Pacific flights can be outrageous, I know someone in Saipan and fares back to the States can match business class transpacific fares for Y.

[Edited 2012-11-28 21:10:26]
 
civetfive
Posts: 184
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:44 am

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:33 am

Quoting flyguy89 (Reply 5):

A $30MM net worth individual probably can't actually afford a Gulfstream or Learjet. Owning and maintaining a private plane can be quite expensive; Netjets and other fractional ownership is more likely, but most likely is they fly commercial.

I'm not exactly sure where the gray area begins and where the cut off is, but its got to be some combination of net worth in excess of $X + so many BIS miles flown per year + which routes those BIS miles are, and that the subset where it actually makese sense is probably pretty small.
 
ushermittwoch
Posts: 2535
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 10:18 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:00 am

I'd agree that almost nobody under 100 million in the bank can or would be willing to afford a longrange buisness jet, just for personal travel. If you're wealthy and have a company that does a lot of business where the owner or top brass needs to travel to remote locations or at very, very short notice, this is a differnt matter.
Where have all the tri-jets gone...
 
Viscount724
Posts: 19056
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Quoting ushermittwoch (Reply 8):
I'd agree that almost nobody under 100 million in the bank can or would be willing to afford a longrange buisness jet, just for personal travel. If you're wealthy and have a company that does a lot of business where the owner or top brass needs to travel to remote locations or at very, very short notice, this is a differnt matter.

And many high net worth people don't waste their money on first class fares. Many even fly Y class.
 
RamblinMan
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:39 pm

Quoting flyguy89 (Reply 5):
Geez! At what point would it actually become cheaper just to charter a private jet?

$5,000 per hour versus $20k for an international roundtrip in F? You do the math.

Quoting flyguy89 (Reply 5):
But would those people really be flying commercial? I would think if you have $30+ million to your name, you probably have a private plane or could at least afford to charter one.

If you have $30 million you don't keep it by blowing it on private jets all the time. In a way, the market for international F is made of up people who, I suppose, COULD fly private, but instead make a more financially responsible choice.

Don't actually know, but I suspect my grandfather might be close to that level. Not only does he fly Y on anything under 10 hours, he actually drives an extra 2 hours to a different city with cheaper fares than his home airport. Anything under 500 miles he does use private transport...his truck. Back when he was still working they had a used cessna 340.

Point is, just cause you can...doesn't mean you should.
 
aviateur
Topic Author
Posts: 562
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:25 am

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:20 am

Quoting RamblinMan (Reply 10):
If you have $30 million you don't keep it by blowing it on private jets all the time. In a way, the market for international F is made of up people who, I suppose, COULD fly private, but instead make a more financially responsible choice.
Don't actually know, but I suspect my grandfather might be close to that level. Not only does he fly Y on anything under 10 hours, he actually drives an extra 2 hours to a different city with cheaper fares than his home airport. Anything under 500 miles he does use private transport...his truck. Back when he was still working they had a used cessna 340.
Point is, just cause you can...doesn't mean you should.

An interesting post. Thanks.

- PS
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
LOWS
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:37 am

RE: Most Expensive Airfares

Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:28 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 9):
And many high net worth people don't waste their money on first class fares. Many even fly Y class.

e.g. the founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad who still flies Y and does all of his shopping at Aldi.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests