Flight connections and the general state of air travel

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by John Thomas, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    I'll be flying to Orlando, FL this Sunday. I've shopped online for the best prices (through Cheaptickets, Expedia) and I've found that flying out of Nashville is cheaper than out of Memphis for this particular trip.

    Here are some bits of info:

    I am 70 miles from Memphis and 120 miles from Nashville; the flight from Nashville connects to Memphis then to Orlando; the flight in Nashville leaves at 6:30am going to Memphis; the Memphis-Orlando flight leaves at 9:10am; the Memphis/Orlando flight is roughly $175 cheaper than the Nashville/Memphis/Orlando flight.

    What is extremely odd is that the Nashville-Memphis flight apparently costs -$175 because the MEM/ORL flight is the exact same one in both instances.

    I've been told that you wouldn't be allowed (in this specific example) to purchase the NASH/ORL ticket and just go to Memphis and get on the connecting flight - they'd forbid you to do this. Being it's the exact same flight and that you have a ticket -for- that flight, I don't see how the airlines could do this.

    Anyone?
     
  2. Jared_B

    Jared_B Supporting Actor

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    I got to the first paragraph, and thought you were asking one of those "when will they collide" math questions.

    As far as your question goes, the airlines decide their pricing based on demand. That's exaclty why weekend flights are cheaper if you were to stay through Monday. They can easily specify that you must make all your connections. I'm sure it says somewhere in the fine print that you must make the trip in full, and not use only the connecting flight.

    If you were to miss or no-show on the Nashville departure, they would void your ticket. You are not buying a ticket for a flight from Mem > Orl, you're buying a ticket from Nash > Orl.
     
  3. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    oh dear, it's much more complicated than simply pricing on demand. there's different buckets based on when and where you leave and go. I don't even come close to understanding the why's and how's of airline pricing.

    to answer the question weekend fares are cheaper because they have to be. Pleasure travlers are much more uh, sensitive to price fluctuations, they can wait. During the week the airlines want the nice lucrative business travlers that pay much more. Weekends are much more elastic. People simply won't go... or that's how the big dude from NWA that lectured us explained it.
     
  4. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    The question wasn't about when weekend fares are cheaper. I was questioning why a flight from Nashville to Memphis to Orlando was $175 cheaper than just the flight from Memphis to Orlando. Also thrown in was a jab at how silly it was that you couldn't simply go and get on the connecting flight in Memphis instead.

    And people wonder why the airlines are having such financial difficulties. [​IMG]
     
  5. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    lets see you operate a business on a 3% gross margin [​IMG]
    or -3% as the case is lately heh.

    my point was the pricing structure is far more complicated than I could explain on a msg board even IF I fully understood it, which I do not. Why did it work out that way? who knows. I would imagine they don't consider every route combination for A-B-C when pricing route A-C, there's a million ways you could get there. The route is priced for THAT market. Perhaps competetion from B-C is greater than A-C and the fares are lower. But really it's all speculation.
     
  6. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    I run into this all the time while traveling on business. For instance, I travelled to Montreal about 2 weeks back. The flight from Boston to Montreal was $190 MORE than the flight from NYCJFK->Boston->Montreal.
     
  7. Marc S Kessler

    Marc S Kessler Stunt Coordinator

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    Have you checked Air Trans. They go from Mem.
     
  8. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    I knew someone who needed to go one way from city A to B. He found that a flight from A to B to C was quite a bit cheaper, so he bought a ticket for that, shipped his luggage via UPS (since he had too much to carry on), & just took the A-B flight. I'm not sure how an airline could prevent that.
     
  9. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    The important question is simple: if, as John says, the flight from Memphis -> Orlando is the same one he'd fly on if he flew Nashville -> Memphis -> Orlando, why would he not be allowed to simply let the seat be empty from Nash to Memph, and just get on there? That makes no sense.

    /Mike
     
  10. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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  11. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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  12. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Trip A -> B -> C costs X.
    Trip B -> C costs X + $175.

    Demand for B -> C is exactly the same on both trips, since it's the exact same flight. How can the first trip be less expensive?

    /Mike
     
  13. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    First of all, the concept is not that they charge you what it costs them + some markup %; they instead charge you the maximum they think you will pay. If they think that 50% of the people flying from Knoxville will pay $500 to fly to Florida, but only 30% of the people flying from Nashville will pay $500, then they will lower the rate in Nashville. They don't care (to a point, obviously they will try not to charge a price below what it costs them to fly the plane) that you paid less to go farther. All they are trying to do is squeeze you for the maximum amount they think the local markets (Nashville and Knoxville) can bear at that time.

    This is a good display of the basic concept at work:

    http://www.kellogg.nwu.edu/faculty/m...eek2slides.pdf

    Another way to approach it is the people with the most options usually pay the least. A vacationer who can vacation any weekend in June, and could go to any one of 4 beaches, will be less likely to pay through the nose for an airfare. A business traveller who needs to get a contract signed and filed before the end of the week with a client in Wichita has little or no choice as to when the fares are cheapest and whether he can go to a different city. The model they use for pricing takes all these factors into account (along with source/destination, weather patterns, how full the flight is, stock price, you name it) and spits out the price.

     
  14. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > Well, they claim you can't do that.

    Like I said, how would they know, unless they took attendance when they arrived at C? (And in that case, how would they know you hadn't just gotten off at B for a break & accidentally didn't make it back to the plane in time?)
     
  15. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Ultimately, the airlines price fares based on origin to destination, not taking into account any connections (or lack thereof) along the way. All else being equal (available fare inventory) tickets from one origin to the same destination will be priced the same, regardless of the number of connections. In reality, connecting flights may be cheaper, as the low fare inventory runs out quicker on the non-stop flights.

    The pricing of Nashville - Orlando is not dependent on the price of any connections. Your actual fare is a function of the class of fare you receive (and I don't mean class of service, first, business, etc.). For each city pair (origin and destination), there's generally a defined monetary fare for each fare class. Essentially, whatever fare class you're purchasing is cheaper on the Nashville - Orlando flight than Memphis - Orlando. Why, most likely the perceived demand of this route. It could also be the airline faces less competition on Memphis - Orlando than Nashville - Orlando.

    It's definitely not common sense, and I did simplify a bit, but it's the reason.

    Oh - and I forgot to add - most, if not all airlines, reconcile the airplane boardings to tickets. Even if you could get a boarding pass, which no agent in Memphis would issue you, you would not be able to board.
     
  16. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I am not an economist, in fact I can barely understand most of the above reasoning, but one thing is clear to me: as long as people pay less if they fly longer than when they fly shorter, no wonder the taxpayers have to make up the difference in price. [​IMG]
     

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