Have you ever bought an airline ticket and wondered how they really set the price for that ticket? I have been puzzling over this question for years and still don’t have a great answer. The true insanity of airline pricing became clear when I looked online last week to see how much it would cost to fly to Asia. The pictures below show prices on United Airline’s website. The prices have not changed in a week so they are not a temporary mistake and the flights to/from Columbus Ohio are eliminated to make the problem clear.
If you want to fly business class round-trip from New York to Tokyo (top picture) it will cost you almost $5,700. However, if you take the same flights BUT add on a side trip for a few days to Seoul, Korea the price drops to around $3,000 (bottom picture), reducing the price of your ticket by almost half.
In most businesses, when things cost the company more, the end user pays more. The airline business seems to follow a different set of rules. Here, taking an extra flight, which costs United more money, means the end user pays less. This insanity is not limited to Asian flights. The same problem exists when trying to find a cheap flight to/from airports near Columbus, Ohio. It is often much cheaper to fly Dayton-Cleveland-New York than it is to fly Cleveland-New York.
Do you have any ideas why airlines reduce the cost of a ticket even when you take more flights?