18 Responses

  1. Leslie H (tripswithtykes)
    Leslie H (tripswithtykes) at |

    Everyone’s expectations are indeed way off. For summer travel to Europe, I’d expect to pay over $1000 per ticket (and more like $1200+) and would consider myself lucky to get anything in a three figures range. I paid just over $1000 for a super-discount fare back in 2001 when I did my post-college tour of Europe and thought it was fair. Why would I expect things to cost the same or even less 12 years later?!?!

  2. Matt
    Matt at |

    How much of it is unrealistic expectation vs. a difference between cost and personal value? There’s a price point where I’d gladly fly off to Europe whenever the mood strikes, another that I’d gladly pay for trips of great importance, and a sliding scale in-between. The cost to the airline in delivering the product doesn’t really change this. $1k is also a nice big emotional number.

    Maybe this is just an indication that either there’s not much money to be made on most leisure travelers, or there’s an untapped market for really cheap fares if those pesky economics could just be made to work.

  3. chris
    chris at |

    Love this analysis of our chat! Thanks, Seth. Smart and pithy as always 😉

  4. RestlessLocationSyndrome
    RestlessLocationSyndrome at |

    Granted this a small sample but could this be more indicative of the sentiment of the general population in that most people have not seen their incomes rise over the past decade and thus their general expectation of prices is the same as they saw a decade ago?

    I would think a majority of people don’t track airfares on a regular basis and receive sticker shock after not checking for multiple years. I think you can say the same thing for many people who look at car prices, home prices, prices for white goods and any other item that is purchased on an infrequent basis.

  5. Ananth
    Ananth at |

    I wonder if the cost of buying cheap business class fares(both through miles promos and some of the crazy sales we have been seeing) is hurting the expectations of a reasonable economy fare. Are the airlines making any money with all those crazy Europe/South America C sales over the last few months? It seems counter productive to put economy fares at near cost price and offering deeply discounted business class unless you think you are going to fill Y seats regardless and think you can get the less price conscious to pay a bit more for a much better experience.

  6. Joey
    Joey at |

    Seth, great analysis and post as always (btw, i missed meeting you at the meetup two days ago since I came really late but hope to meet you someday!)
    Quick question though. Do award chart pricing fluctuate as well? I always thought flight award redemption pricing are fairly constant, even in the summer. I ask because you stated you don’t spend more than 100,000 miles on a transatlantic business class roundtrip flight in the summer.

  7. DaveS
    DaveS at |

    If you take the question at face value, “What is the most you’d pay,” any answer would be correct. Lots of people responding don’t intend to fly to Europe but would if there were unrealistic bargains.

  8. Tom
    Tom at |

    I agree with DaveS. The question asked matches the answers given. These folks with answers lower than the typical winter fare to Europe will be staying home. They should have asked instead something like ‘what would you expect to pay to travel transatlantically this summer?’

  9. Tom
    Tom at |

    I think it would be a good idea to keep out the word ‘fair’ entirely when asking questions about airline fares 🙂 I just purchased a fare for a route that used to $X two-three years ago. Now it runs typically $X+200. I bought it when I saw it $X+100. I didn’t buy it because I thought it was fair at $X+100. I bought it because I didn’t think that I’d get better than that given the way things have been going.

  10. Noah Kimmel
    Noah Kimmel at |

    I laugh when people give numbers for “fair” prices that are below cost. At the end of the day, high cost does not equal high price. Airlines have done a great job of lowering costs through BK, labor, outsourced flying, fuel efficiency and hedging, more seats on a plane, etc.

    So many leisure/unprofitable customers complain about every detail because “$300” is so expensive, regardless of whether it is profitable for the airline, and they chose it over the $310 fare on VX or B6 or WN….

  11. Marshall Jackson
    Marshall Jackson at |

    Very nice job here. I’m admittedly shocked at some of the opinions I hear on airline pricing from friends and colleagues. For me, a “fair” fare is what is available when I want to go. Admittedly, the price tends to be a bit more than it was a few years ago each time I check.

  12. Personal Points: A Few Mistakes Not to Repeat - New Girl in the Air

    […] in 2013, so I’m really favoring an international destination, and I’ve yet to see a fair fare that fits my criteria.  Guess it’s time to pay up since paying too much is better than not […]

  13. Nick
    Nick at |

    But award space is actually pretty decent, especially for July. Try searching SFO-FRA. Hawaii prices are also a bit more this summer. $700+ from the west coast is standard if you need to go weekend to weekend. Book ’em if you haven’t yet because prices probably won’t go down.

  14. Ryan E
    Ryan E at |

    I can’t read the screen caps very well on my phone, were the questions and answers focused on coach or premium, or both?

    I have only bought cash tickets.TATL on mistake fares/FDs, using miles for other times. Interesting chat though!

  15. Scottrick
    Scottrick at |

    It’s all about expectations, skill, and flexibility, I guess. I have only once paid more than $1,000 to go to Europe, and it was for a charter flight. But I’m well aware of what it actually costs. I realize I am trading my time to save money, and that’s okay because I have more time than money right now. At the same time, I’m willing to cancel my trip if I can’t find a fare I like. I’ll go somewhere else I can afford.

  16. LarryInNYC
    LarryInNYC at |

    First off, nice to see some actual data on fares and costs. These conversations usually involve statements that “costs are down” or “fares are up” without actual numbers.

    I’m someone who’s definitely been dealing with sticker shock the last 12 months or so. If it’s true that airfares are not up substantially (at least in inflation adjusted terms) I think what’s happened is that airlines have gotten better at eliminating cheap fares around the margins, where I must have been booking.

    Three summers ago, I was still able to fly my family of four to Barcelona for $500 in August. An annual trip I make to Italy in May/June has gone from $500 four years ago to $800 the next year and then to $1400 last year and this.

    It seems to me that until fairly recently, regardless of the prevailing fares, it was always possible to find a bargain fare to SOMEWHERE that I wanted to go. Those bargain fares don’t seem to be around too much anymore — only in the form of one or two day fare sales and the occasional mistake.

  17. Sice
    Sice at |

    I’m still stunned that prices are just now approaching the ~$400 I paid in 1989 for transcon. And back then that was ‘fair’ for me; it’s amazing that airlines can function at current fares.

    I’m pricing a trip for my mother from the west coast to Italy and am accepting that $1400 is the median she’ll get. But she’s not flexible on travel dates so she also accepts paying that. And it’s not a terrible fare as it is…