$198 to Europe or $981.80 to Europe

This email offering fares from the US to Europe got me mildly excited for a minute with visions of Rome until i focused on the star. I love those stars that sit next to all airline pricing. As I have long complained, no fare is what it says it is.

So the star* in this fare special means:

  1. that’s $198 each way- and you must buy a round trip ticket
  2. $198 of course is the cheapest possible fare and is from: NYC to Dublin, Ireland which while definitely part of the European Community is not anywhere near Rome which is in fact $315 each way
  3. fees, taxes and airport charges up to $245 are extra
  4. Fares are for mid-week travel -weekend surcharges apply
  5. The fares quoted are from New York- how many Americans actually live in NYC? Other cities are far higher. For example, St Louis-Rome is $471 each way!
The cheapest fare from St Louis to Rome on a Wednesday is $981.80. The weekend fare ranged from $1200 to $1900. 
That’s a far cry from $198 and it annoys me.
If our supermarkets operated the same way, they would offer a Bunch of Bananas for 10c*
  1. that’s 10 cents a banana ….a bunch contains six bananas which must be bought together-otherwise each banana singly is $4
  2. the bananas actually do not contain any banana flesh. Its the banana skin price that starts at 10 cents. A banana inside each banana skin costs an extra 30 cents per banana
  3. fees, taxes and shop charges are up to 15 cents a banana extra
  4. the bananas are only on sale at this price between 1am and 4am
  5. the bananas are only available at this price at one store. The price at every other store will be 20 cents higher per banana
So your 10 cents banana becomes $4.50 for a bunch – only if you buy them at 2am! 
Would we tolerate a store selling things this way? NO  Why do we let airlines?
  1. we are talking large sums of money- most of us find it hard to picture $1000 purchases but we can imagine 10 cent purchases,
  2. airline travel is seen as slightly mysterious and most people do not understand the complexities
  3. the airline industry has been seen as a  soft target for taxes and charges by governments  and airports around the world. I am not sure any other industry has the regime of taxes an airline does. 
  4. Airlines have shifted more and more of what was included in their core pricing to “fees” and “charges”  They then can advertise the base fare and add the charges and fees later
In the meantime, watch your pricing- no price is what it seems. In this case I would be happier with Lufthansa is they said: Europe from $645….but that price does not grab your attention as much as $198 does it?

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