The mystery of airline ticket pricing

I have to admit that I have often been puzzled about airline ticket pricing.   It is only marginally more expensive to go to Guatemala than it is to Canada.  It is more expensive to go to Los Vegas or Puerto Rico (both within the US) than it is to to go to Guatemala.  Hawaii is only marginally more expensive than Los Vegas but twice as far away.  Does any of that make sense to you?  If you thought that didn’t make sense… try this:

I booked tickets for the kids to come from Peru to DC.  We did this through Spirit Air because they are the cheapest BY FAR!!!

I started by looking at the prices for November and December.  I discovered that prices go up after Dec 10th and naturally it is more expensive to go on weekends.   This left us with finding a flight before Dec 10th on a week day.

We only need one way tickets so I priced one-way through Spirit Air.  1561$ for all the tickets for Dec 10th.  OUCH!   That is a little expensive.  Spirit Air is  very cheap from Lima to Miami so I thought… why not price both legs of the trip separately and pick up a national carrier from Miami to DC?  I checked Orbitz and to price them separately was just about 1100$.   Interestingly enough,  Spirit Air was on Orbitz and their Miami  to DC flight was one of the cheapest.   So we could either go with a national carrier or just buy the Spirit tickets on Orbitz.  It seems a weird way to go but hey… whatever works.  This was Friday.

Sunday rolls around and we decide to actually buy the tickets.  I went trolling for prices on Spirit Air and found tickets for Dec 6th that were 125$ cheaper for the Lima to Miami leg.  This was also the moment when I discovered that booking tickets on SpiritAir.com from Lima to Miami and then from Miami to DC  was cheaper than purchasing a ticket from Lima to DC.  It was 600$ cheaper to be exact.   Does this make any sense at all?  Can anyone justify paying 600$ just to get their luggage from one plane to the next without having to pick it up in-between?  That is totally insane.  On a whim, I then decided to check out the price of a round-trip between Lima and DC although they didn’t need a round trip.  If they left Dec 5th and came back Dec 7th, a round trip was 1058$ about 50$ to 60$ more than purchasing the two one way legs separately and considerably cheaper than the same one-way ticket.   If they left Dec 6th and came back ANY DAY,  the minimum price for a round trip was 1800$+  Tell me what possible difference there is between leaving Dec 5th and Dec 6th that would justify almost doubling the price?

To recap Spirit Air’s pricing:
Lima to DC purchased one way: 1561$
Lima to Miami then Miami to DC one way: 1002$
Lima to DC round-trip leaving Dec 5th: 1058$
Lima to DC round-trip leaving Dec 6th: 1800$+

So we decided to go with the round-trip leaving Dec 5th so they wouldn’t have to deal with re-checking in their luggage.  I can justify that for 57$ more.  It is a huge convenience for very little extra money.

And at the end of all this,  I am considering myself lucky that I managed to find a reasonable price for them.  It definitely takes some research to figure out the cheapest way to travel by air.

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3 responses to “The mystery of airline ticket pricing

  1. Airline tickets never made any sense to me. I wanted to go see my Grandfather this December for Christmas and started looking for prices at the end of August only to find out that the cheapest I could find was $500 round trip. My Grandfather lives in Arizona and that price is with a layover both on the way there and on the return trip. Needless to say I don’t have that kind of money and will probably have to wait until next year some time to go for a visit.
    ~ FC

  2. Surely, not nothing!!! my percentages were spaced out 25, 23, 23, 29…..so surely, not nothing!! I was afraid to take it for Roy for fear we would uncompatible…..I would hate to divorce him over a Jung test!!!
     He took the color test once for his job…he’s a blue.
     I wonder if we had kids if they’d be green???

  3. I hate looking for airline deals.  Apparently there are cheaper days to fly than others, cheaper times, etc.  It can be sooo aggravating to just book a flight. I feel your pain.  I guess the best way to be is flexible when booking a flight.

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