large recent increase in airfare?
April 13, 2010 1:57 PM   Subscribe

I last flew in September and the price was 300 bucks for one way non-stop flight. Now, in April, it's 600 dollars for the non-stop, and the cheapest flight has a layover, AND is 80 (380) dollars more. Is there a reason for the large increase in flying costs these past 6 months?

I'm just curious -- I mentioned it to a friend, and he said that's why they're flying closer to home, that it was a massive increase they noticed as well.

I'm guessing it's a fuel cost thing? What's the deal? Anybody know of any current troubles in the industry? Is there less subsidization happening? What's up?
posted by symbioid to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't noticed an appreciable increase in costs, and I fly every two months or so.
posted by something something at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2010

Air fares fluctuate wildly all the time and for many reasons. It can depend on how far in advance you book the flight, and you didn't specify if that was the same both times. There's no reason to assume that air fares have increased across the board just based on two individuals' isolated experiences.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:00 PM on April 13, 2010

Are you looking at the same time period? The same airports? The same days of the week? And the same period out from the date of travel? All these things matter.

If you want to see the actual change in costs, you'll need to look at the average of flight costs over a span of time.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:03 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Airplane tickets fluctuate for a variety of reasons including but not limited to: supply, demand, oil prices, geopolitical events, regulatory actions, labor unrest, etc.

Without knowing the pricing system of the airline in question and understanding how all of these variables and others interact with it your question is impossible to answer.

Short answer to your question: no one here will be able to give you a satisfactory answer.
posted by dfriedman at 2:05 PM on April 13, 2010

As above, there are any number of possible causes.

One thing you can count on, in my experience, is that the price will go up three weeks before the day of travel, then go up again, a lot, two weeks previous.

(You would think it would go down, as the probability of the seat going empty increased, but it doesn't. This is why we all love the airlines so much.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:11 PM on April 13, 2010

You would think it would go down, as the probability of the seat going empty increased, but it doesn't.

Are you sure about that? I've heard that it does sometimes go down closer to the day of the flight.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2010

(You would think it would go down, as the probability of the seat going empty increased, but it doesn't.

Not to get too off topic, but this is an old discussion among finance types. Namely, are empty airline seats like options, in that they tend toward zero as they expire? Here "expire" would be when the flight in question takes off.
posted by dfriedman at 2:19 PM on April 13, 2010

One way ticket to Tucson I purchased last month three weeks before my trip was much cheaper on the same than the same ticket purchased in September three weeks before the same trip was taken by my bf

In other words, here's one data point that basically proves the opposite, and what dfriedman is said is probably right.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:23 PM on April 13, 2010

I fly at least twice a week and haven't noticed any changes recently.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:28 PM on April 13, 2010

I find it a little strange that most people here (at least those who have responded) haven't noticed an increase in airline tickets since last year or perhaps a little longer. Purely anecdotal, but seems that I've had this conversation at least 3x in the last few months and the people with whom I've talked to about it think that it's only going to get worse (although I honestly don't know where they are getting their info; none of them are travel industry insiders). I don't notice it so much when I look at domestic flights (I'm in the US) but international flights seem to have gone up exponentially. The deals just aren't as amazing as they used to be. One person is so sure that flights are going to go up dramatically that he'd planned 4 trips to Europe in the last 6 months because he thinks that they are really going to skyrocket by the end of the year. I think that the main culprit is that it just seems that there are fewer flights per route then there used to be. Actually one person who works for an airline did say that their airline would offer several flights a day to certain cities, but in reality they only offer one or two. They would routinely cancel the flights that weren't full or combine two half-full flights.
posted by kaybdc at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2010

Wow, why does it seem so weird. Are there other industries that use this sort of pricing scheme that's so variable? I understand there are market forces and pressure on getting seats made, but it seems so massively disparate from other things I've dealt with.

Thanks for the links and tips. Hopefully I can get a better deal next time.
posted by symbioid at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2010

Basically, what you're asking, symbiod, is whether other industries practice yield management. and Dell have experimented with a form of this called price discrimination, albeit on a much more limited basis than the airlines.

And, obviously, the stock market is an example of a market where the "inventory" fluctuates in price without any apparent rhyme or reason.
posted by dfriedman at 2:52 PM on April 13, 2010

An airplane is actually divided into way more fare classes than just First / Business / Economy. Economy may have five or more separate fare buckets within it. That $300 ticket you found months ago may be a W (discount economy), while the $600 one now is M (standard economy). They sold all the W's, so now you need to buy an M.

(At the same time, they also adjust the prices of each bucket, and reallocate the seats between buckets.)
posted by smackfu at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2010

in the airline business there are distinct seasons. Busy, Slow and Shoulder which is in between the two.

Busiest is summer when many people take vacations. Labor Day weekend is the busiest. Airfares are highest then. Then after that Xmas comes second. Then comes Spring Break.

Then regional variations come into play. Traveling to a major tourist spot ? Going to South East Asia in dry season ? Going to a ski destination when there's no snow ?

what were the travel dates you were booking ? also there has been some upward price pressure as major world economies come out of recession and business and leisure bookings rise as well as capacity control on seat inventory by the airlines in order to maintain pricing integrity. these factors all influence prices.

but a blanket statement of airfares are skyrocketing out of control is erroneous...
posted by dawdle at 3:47 PM on April 13, 2010

Everything everybody said here about the complexity of airfare pricing... but is everybody here crazy (with the exception of kaybdc)? Of course airfare has gone up-- there's a lot fewer planes flying, less competition, and additional fees. I travel for business, and definitely have seen an almost across the board increase over last year (international and domestic).

A quick Google News search seems to back that up-- An average 13% increase year-over-year.
posted by cosmonaught at 4:02 PM on April 13, 2010

I agree, fares (at least, those which interest me) are way up over the past few years, and I'd guess the rising price of oil is a factor in addition to recession slowdown (~$50/barrel last summer, ~$80 now).
posted by Rash at 5:49 PM on April 13, 2010

is everybody here crazy (with the exception of kaybdc)? ... A quick Google News search seems to back that up-- An average 13% increase year-over-year.

We were responding to the suggestion that there had been a 100% increase in the past 6 months.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2010

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