The Wacky World of Airline Pricing

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jason L., May 10, 2005.

  1. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    So I'm coming back to the US in June, and my Mom and Sister want to go to Montreal for a few days [June 12 - 16] from New York. Time is limited so we are flying instead of making the drive upstate.

    My Mom has to leave on an earlier flight coming back in order to be at work on time. I go to AmericanAirlines.com [Travelocity is showing that they are the cheapest] and see that almost all of the flights are for 216.00 + taxes and fees. This appears not to be a heavily traveled route, and is serviced by American Eagle instead of regular old American. The planes are small and only hold 42 passengers. The flight time is a whopping 1 hour and 25 minutes.

    I purchase tickets for my sister and myself. A couple of hours later I go to purchase the ticket for my Mom, and most of prices have shot up to 295.00 + taxes and fees for most of the flights - with a few still left at the 216.00 price. Unfortunately, those remaining cheaper flights don't fit into our schedule.

    I think to myself - this is bulls%*t. My purchasing two lousy tickets has set of some sort of chain reaction. I figure I'll wait for them to come back down.

    I check today, and all the flights have shot up to 360.00 + taxes and fees. This is beginning to piss me off because we are looking at $400 with all the taxes and fees. My flight from Frankfurt to NYC only cost $545 total.

    I don't understand the sudden increase in price. When I look at the seats available for the flight back for my Mom there are only 9 seats filled out of 42. On the flight there, only 14 out of 37 are filled.

    What gives? I can't imagine there was a sudden rush on these flights in the space of 30 hours.
     
  2. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    Here's how airlines set prices for seats:

    For a Boeing 737 which has ~135 seats, there are perhaps 6 seats at some really good price.

    There are perhaps 50 seats at a more expensive price.

    There are perhaps another 50 seats at an even more expensive price.

    There are perhaps another 29 seats at an even more expensive price.

    What probably happened is that you bought some at the really good price. Now, since there only about 13 seats left on your flight, you're now dealing with the really expensive seats.

    It gets worse. Airlines will check and redo these prices every once in a while. So if they're thinking that the flight is going to be full, they'll jack up the prices a few weeks before the flight. If they feel that the flight is going to be empty, they're going to lower the price. Of course, they also watch their competitors' prices as well.

    Whichever airline first decides to offer one price for all seats on a flight, and allows returns 30 days before the flight, will completely dominate the airline industry.
     
  3. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    Watch out about these sites because they use a tracking cookie and if you keep going back and forth the price goes up. Clear your cookies and history and the price will magically come down (bought tickets for a friend and noticed this).
     
  4. SteveLa

    SteveLa Stunt Coordinator

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    Check different travel sites. Sometimes one site will have an exclusive fare. You've already gone to Travelocity so try Orbitz or Expedia. Or try a flight out of one of the other airports in the NY area.

    Sounds like it's probably an American Eagle regional jet. If so, I'm already feeling sorry for you. Ever since I got stuck on a United regional jet between Hartford and Chicago, I make sure to avoid them at all cost. The rows are incredibly close with overhead storage that's next to nothing. I'm afraid at the end you'll be agreeing that flight was the longest hour and 25 minutes of your life. [​IMG]
     
  5. John Alvarez

    John Alvarez Screenwriter

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    That's why Southwest is doing so well. They do increase the price closer to flight time but you don't buy a seat so that doesn't regulate the price.
     
  6. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Has anyone ever flown SkyEurope? I was looking into a flight from Rome to Budapest and it gave me a price of about 8 (!) euros (plus another 28 euros in taxes). That price sounds too good to be true, but I just want to make sure they are fairly reputable. (I don't want to find out I'm on some prop job.)

    On a broader note, I'm thinking airfares are going to be rising soon, based on the seemingly inevitable liquidation of United. The last straw is the pensions, which a judge pretty much ended yesterday. My opinion is that the industry needs a few carriers to go under because a) prices have been held down by too many carriers on shaky ground and b) when carriers such as United or US Air are allowed to operate in bankruptcy it places an unfair strain on the others. After all, now you're going to see American and Delta complain that they can't compete because United doesn't have to fund their pensions anymore.
     
  7. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    You are also getting close to 1 month from your travel time... ticket prices tend to increase around the 1 month mark. This is why you should try and get your tickets as early as possible...
     
  8. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    Greg, I think the 21-day mark is when ticket prices go up dramatically.

    I posted this on another forum, where I got this reply back:

    So I checked on Wednesday and the prices had indeed gone back down again, some back down to the original price. The one I wanted had backed down to 290.00.

    This was beginning to feel like gambling. I decided to watch how things developed.

    This morning the flight I wanted backed down to 235.00 and I grabbed it.

    To recap, in the space of 3-4 days, the prices went like this:

    216 + taxes
    295 + taxes
    360 + taxes
    290 + taxes
    235 + taxes

    None of this makes any sense. The only activity on these flights probably was the purchase I made.

    I am going to watch the prices until I leave just to see how things turn out. It really did feel like gambling or watching the stock market.
     
  9. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I must have gotten one of those 6 cheap seats when I flew round trip non-stop from Newark to Paris France for like $248 on Air France!!! Could not believe I found such a price. Kind of expected to be thrown off the airline halfway.

    Jay
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    It's actually easy to get similar prices as long as it's an off season or you book long enough in advance.

    Right now, November is the ealiest time you will be able to fly to europe for that price. Last winter and this srping it was possible to get to london for less than $200 from NYC with a couple of weeks advance purchase.

    A friend called me yesterday with a deal on a September Boston to Madrid flight for $179. By the time I said yes this morning, it had shot to $600.

    I've still got my eyes peeled for september.

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  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    This was in 2002, when I went to Paris to see the Tour de France so it was the July timeframe. However, for awhile I was checking orbitz, etc. etc. daily and most of the time was getting $400+ until one day I happen to catch it at that price. But never again, I tried to tell some friends but they couldn't get that price.

    I am flying in June from Philly to Manchester, NH on Father's day weekend for $80 round trip to go do a presidential traverse in the White Mtns. Gas from NJ to the White Mtns is probably going to cost me more than that!

    Jay
     
  12. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    That is an amazing price for July, how early?

    You can't find anything right now for less than $650 for Jun-Jul-Aug [​IMG].

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  13. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Well, Mario Bartel (another HTf'er and resident cyclist) mentioned the tour package in Novemeber, 2001, so I would say in the February timeframe, I was looking for airline tickets.

    It was certainly freaky though as I could not replicate that price any other day, don't know if it was a computer glitch or just really lucky.

    I think we flew into CDG on the same terminal that not too long ago had it's roof collapse!

    Jay
     
  14. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    That's because SABRE, et al. load new fares in every Tuesday night.
     
  15. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    What is SABRE?

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  16. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    http://www.sabre-holdings.com/

    Kind of an online electronics ticketing database system...

    I remember there were a bunch of online travel agencies that were hooked up to the SABRE network.

    Jay
     
  17. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    216 + taxes
    295 + taxes
    360 + taxes
    290 + taxes
    235 + taxes

    5/14 - 295 + taxes
     
  18. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    SABRE was delevoped many years ago by American Airlines. It was the first, good, online, realtime airlines reservation system. As such it gave AA a very big competetive advantage, because as it listed out all of the flights from one location to another, all of American flights were listed first. So your basic travel agent and client would often just take the top of the list.

    Since then there have been a number of competing systems developed.

    The operating system software (TPS) that makes all this go was developed by IBM and lacks much of the protection afforded by MVS. The systems programmers who manage TPS have a pretty specialized skill and used to command a premium in the market.
     
  19. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    I bet these guys have to do a lot of TPS reports. [​IMG]
     
  20. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Why does travelocity shows dates as avialable for a certain fare while they are actually not? You don't find out until you click on them. Right now after I click on a certain date, I don't get a message telling me it's sold out but one saying hte airline doesn't even fly on that route on that day, WTF?!

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