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Author Topic: "Hidden city" fares - the airline equivalent of break of journey?  (Read 5129 times)
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« on: January 09, 2015, 07:42:26 pm »

We all know that advance fares of the railway prohibit a break of journey and can often be cheaper than shorter journeys on the exact same train, but turns out it applies to the airline industry too.

Let's look at an example.  From London Heathrow (LHR) to Gran Canaria (LPA) on 22nd January 2015.

Iberia are quoting this itinerary:
^150 (in total for both flights)

Seems like a reasonable price.

But, search for LHR to Madrid (MAD) on the exact same day, on the exact same website and you get this:

Yes, that's right.  They are charging an additional ^400 to not purchase an additional seat on another flight.

There are some problems with buying the through ticket:
1. In the event of disruption, the airline only needs to re-route you to the final destination
2. Baggage may be checked through to the final destination
3. This may in contravention of the airline's frequent flyer system
4. You probably won't find a similar fare in the opposite direction

This looks like an exact replica of the situation we see on the railways.  Remember the couple who were charged for leaving the train at Eastleigh, when they held tickets through from London Waterloo to Southampton Central....
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2015, 08:00:48 pm »

It seems the airlines are not prepared to ignore it however....

From CNN

A young computer whiz from New York City has launched a site to help people buy cheap plane tickets. But an airline company and its travel partner want to shut him down.

United Airlines (UAL) and Orbitz (OWW (Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton)) filed a civil lawsuit last month against 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman, who founded the website last year.

The site helps travelers find cheap flights by using a strategy called "hidden city" ticketing.

The idea is that you buy an airline ticket that has a layover at your actual destination. Say you want to fly from New York to San Francisco -- you actually book a flight from New York to Lake Tahoe with a layover in San Francisco and get off there, without bothering to take the last leg of the flight.

This travel strategy only works if you book a one-way flight with no checked bags (they would have landed in Lake Tahoe).

It's not like these tickets are the cheapest all the time, but they often are.

In the lawsuit, United and Orbitz call Skiplagged "unfair competition" and allege that it is promoting "strictly prohibited" travel. They want to recoup $75,000 in lost revenue from Zaman.

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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2015, 08:29:14 pm »

Just as TOCs (Train Operating Company) aren't happy with split ticketing on rail services. Fortunately though, passengers have the protection of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and, despite ATOC» (Association of Train Operating Companies See - here) moaning about split-ticketing, they have no real appetite for the political and public relations fallout should they try to amend or remove Condition 19.

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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2015, 08:33:42 pm »

I've flown a few times from UK (United Kingdom) to Chania in winter. no direct flights. Its normally cheaper to buy separate UK-Athens-Chania with a big saving than it is to buy a through ticket with change at Athens. That is despite paying extra tax on separate tickets than buying a through ticket.

All posts are my own personal believes, opinions and understandings!
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2015, 12:52:48 am »

Just as TOCs (Train Operating Company) aren't happy with split ticketing on rail services. Fortunately though, passengers have the protection of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and, despite ATOC» (Association of Train Operating Companies See - here) moaning about split-ticketing, they have no real appetite for the political and public relations fallout should they try to amend or remove Condition 19.

I'm pretty sure the changes of last summer did away with the anomaly, but I think bus fares from Bath to Corsham used to be more expensive than Bath to Chippenham via Corsham - a slowish journey that competes with the train.  There was absolute horror, and "you CANNOT do that", when I suggested at a bus user group meeting that people buy a Chippenham ticket and get off short.  And rail rules for advance tickets (and megatrain) also outlaw the practise, with potentially expensive penalties and occasionally not just potential.

It feels wrong to be charged more for the shorter journey, and it feels wrong not to be allowed to get off short in cases where that rule applies.  The only case I personally can see where shorter-costs-more would feel right is if the short stop station / stop was more expensive per passenger to operate.

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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 01:23:20 pm »

A friend of mine went to South Africa over Christmas - it was apparently ^500 cheaper for him to go from London to Amsterdam, back to London and then on to Johannesburg than to go straight there!
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 01:39:40 pm »

It's usually cheaper to go 'via' somewhere than direct when the more miles you fly, the cheaper it is.

Commercial decision by airlines with hubs off the line of route. Try Emirates via Dubai, for example, to South Africa.
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 09:27:56 pm »

Some of this stuff SEEMS to be completely eldest son is travelling from London to Hong Kong in March with BA» (British Airways - about) but saves himself c. ^150 by catching the Eurostar to Paris, staying overnight and then taking a connecting BA flight back to Thiefrow the following morning.  Huh
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 11:17:31 pm »

In some ways it makes sense to pay more for a quick direct flight, at least to the customer. What the airlines' motives are is less clear to me.

It reminds me of bus fares. In Britain, most operators make you pay once per bus used (though in fairness most now offer day tickets that limit how far that can build up). If I need to travel across Reading, for some trips there's a route that goes through the middle, but in most cases it means a change and two buses so two tickets and twice the cost. But to me a single bus all the way is worth more than having to change - so why do they charge me half as much?

It's all about the difference between the cost (to the seller) and the value (to the buyer) of the same product. There's no reason why they should ever be the same, though theory says the value must always exceed the price. The prices in aggregate have to exceed the nett costs, for solvency's sake. 
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