In trying to book tickets to go to my friend Mike’s wedding in Honolulu, Hawaii, I’ve learned the following facts:
Flying roundtrip from Dallas to Honolulu costs $900.
Flying roundtrip from Houston to Honolulu via Dallas costs $630.
On America West, you can fly from Phoenix to Honolulu. The flight goes via Las Vegas.
However, you can’t fly directly from Vegas to Honolulu, even though there is, apparently, a plane taking off from that airport that goes to Honolulu.
The one that struck closest to home:
On Northwest, it costs $730 to fly roundtrip SFO->HNL.
Northwest has a promotion by which it costs $320 to fly roundtrip from ATL->HNL. This flight stops in SFO in both directions.
Yes, $400 cheaper. Unfortunately, you cannot buy a multi-leg ticket and get on halfway — the airline won’t issue you your boarding passes except at the starting airport. (You can get on at the beginning and get off halfway, though, provided you didn’t check any baggage.)
$400 was so much cheaper, however, that I hatched a plan to buy a one-way ticket from SFO to ATL on Northwest, go to the SFO airport and get all my boarding passes, and skip the SFO->ATL->SFO legs. Then I could (maybe) just jump on for SFO->HNL, and on the way back skip out early and get out at SFO.
Sneaky, right? Ah, but the airlines are sneakier: a one-way ticket from SFO->ATL runs $600. $600! The best part is that a roundtrip ticket, SFO->ATL and back, costs only $300.
Insanity. Of course, even this convoluted plan, with the roundtrip ticket to Atlanta, wouldn’t save me much money at all, so I abandonded it.
I do, though, hate airlines.
I’ve seen a number of projects that attempt to numerically analyze changes in airline prices by some automated system. Essentially they treat the airline websites as black boxes and just aggregate stats on them. While this might work, I’m wondering whether someone can just get an anonymous insider to expose how prices actually work. Is there any sense there at all?
Something akin to the famous Confessions of a Car Salesman, perhaps. No doubt in the airline case it might be illegal to disclose this information. But there’s gotta be some loophole…