Ridiculously confusing airline pricing


Why, oh why, do the airlines make it so hard to figure out the pricing for a ticket? Yes, there are rules about what does and does not have to be included, but even that doesn’t seem to be enough to make things easy in most cases. I was doing some research on a flight recently and was presented with this fare display:

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Yes, I picked the “$243” ticket but, no, none of the prices I was then presented actually were that number. The ticket is actually either $226.05 or $253.70, not $243. But that’s the advertised price. What gives?

Sadly, I actually know the answer. It has to do with which fees do and do not have to be included in the initial advertised fare since they can vary depending on the airports traversed  in the USA. These Passenger Facility Charges are levied by the airports and used to help fund their operations and capital improvements. There are also the “September 11th Security Fee” that goes to pay for having the TSA harass passengers randomly and a per-segment flight tax that also goes to the federal government. Without knowing the final routing the PFCs and per-segment taxes cannot be reasonably computed.

But it still is ridiculous that airlines can have so many different “prices” when the only thing that customers really care about is the amount they pay out the door. It is a shame that the US-based carriers aren’t required to simply share the full price and that the US government actually makes it more complicated with the fees they charge rather than enforcing simpler rules.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

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