It's very much possible for a one way flight to cost more than a round trip flight that includes the one way flight. For instance, a one way ticket on Delta flight #92 going from JFK to TXL at 8:39pm on May 15, 2019 costs $2,902 . But if you add on a return flight (which includes the original DL 92 flight), the price drops to $957 .
Basically, the airline industry is competitive, but individual direct routes function like quasi-monopolies, and they have to make all their profits on the quasi-monopoly price charged to people who want the fastest route between two cities, say A and B.
But if Airline 1 has a quasi-monopoly on the direct A-C route, then Airline 2 can only compete by offering a cheaper, indirect route. Because 2 has a quasi-monopoly on the A-B and B-C routes, it wants to charge "legit" A-B and B-C travelers the full direct-route premium.
But if those people don't fill up the plane, and 2 wants to compete with the quasi-monopoly 1 (on A-C), then 2 ends up charging less for a combined A-B and B-C, because it has to undercut A-C's price. But that requires it to vigorously sort such travelers from the legit one-hop travelers.
With that said, cheaper-for-round-trip still doesn't make sense.
In March a friend of mine is getting married in Panama. The Round-trip from Zurich to Panama was absurdly expensive. For around the same price, I will go to Italy by train, fly from Verona to Spain, hike for 2 weeks along the Camino de Santiago, fly to Panama from Madrid, and back in Zurich.
Here's another option: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=/m/02_286./m/0156q.2019-0...
The budget airlines don't play games like the legacy airlines (or rather at least to not as heavy of a degree), which is refreshing.
This doesn't surprise me one bit from my experience with Lufthansa. They love to blame the customer for everything, especially when they (LH) screw up.
EDIT: This is a great example of where a corporation should suffer criminal charges. But given Germany's protection of their flag carrier.. it won't happen.
The gate was announced about an hour before the gate closure, and by the time we'd got to the gate (~5 minutes) we were informed that the bag drop was closed. We had a brief argument, and they reluctantly took the bags. Insane.
That airport has no centralized check-ins anywhere. I have no idea how you would spend any amount there without just going to the gate indicated on the screens everywhere. Most people who don’t know it don’t even notice the difference. They just see it saying “A21” and follow he signs to A21.
It’s actually a rather well-liked concept because check in, passport control, and security only serve that one flight at a time. It’s faster, and you will never miss your flight because of people in front of you in a queue booked on a later flight.
Alas, it requires more personnel, and the airport will close soonish.
This is not a great example of anything else, despite your hyperbole.
I agree that technically it's breach of contract. The trouble is that humans who aren't lawyers think of tickets as options instead of futures. They think they're buying the right to board instead of an obligation to board.
I can also see the human-positive side effect. The marginal cost of an extra bum in a seat isn't high, so it makes sense to fill up the plane, but the economics only work out if there's enough people who pay more.
There are lots of ways to differentiate between these sets of people - service levels, flexibility, calendar patterns. But the internet reduces the price information asymmetry that calendar patterns rely on, and so we've come to this court case: making it a hard constraint rather than hoodwinking the relatively price insensitive business traveller.
Then we should also look at departure times, how often has a flight been delayed? Many people count on getting where they are going on time. That should also count as a breach of contract as well.
Edit: To take this to the absurd, you have to pay to make any changes to your ticket at after a certain point in time i.e. name. So when you receive the ticket and it has a gate listed, is that also part of the contract? I am not allowed to change anything printed there without paying, why should they be allowed?
Or do we say that things happen and we allow systems to be lenient?
Why can't we just pay our money, get our ticket, and then decide on our own whether we want to use it or not?
In that case, can the airline decide to simply not run the flight and keep everyone's money? It's a contract because both sides have accepted some number of terms. If it weren't you would forego all sorts of protections. When you (reasonably) want those back... guess what? Disputes are decided on the terms of the (sales) contract. How else would it work?
Maybe if a ticket actually held some sort guarantee for getting a seat on an airplane things would be different...
No they don't. They overbook to maximize profits, yes. It sucks and is completely anti-consumer, yes. However, they do not simply send you packing. They re-book you. You also agree to it when you buy the ticket. Again, yes, it's buried in the contract and since every airline does it you really have no choice.
It's far from perfect/fair, but that has nothing to do with what I responded to. If "everything doesn't have to be a contract" then you have no legal recourse. Ever. Sales need to be contracts in the eyes of the law, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect.
I’ve also heard of airlines canceling “overlapping” tickets which would not be possible unless you skipped a leg. I’ve been hit by that when trying to book multiple flights for a business trip where I didn’t know exactly when I would be coming back, and the advance fare ticket was a small fraction of the cost of a refundable ticket.
Complaining that a customer skips a final segment on the return flight is poor sport. Except for one thing — if they have you in the system because you started your return flight earlier in the day, and now at your connecting flight they are calling final boarding again and again waiting for a passenger that never shows, it holds up the entire plane and is a drag on their resources trying to page you and track you down.
I can understand airlines refusing future service to someone who does this to them repeatedly. A 5 year ban or terminating their frequent flier account or something along that lines would seem appropriate.
The ban might be hard to enforce however since it’s not like Amazon where they can blacklist your address.
Yeah they do this, even for a direct return flight (A to B and back to A) if you miss the A to B, they'll not honor the B to A ticket. Happened to a friend who was supposed to go Wednesday and return on Sunday, but had a meeting at work in the origin city and flew on Thursday instead.
I think most of the "hidden city" travelers don't check any bags in, because as has been mentioned, it'll be hard to get their bag back/the time needed to unload the bag will massively piss off the airline.
If it is cheaper for them to head to a third city first instead of directly just have the prices reflect it so it is x to layover and y to destination which is less than z a direct flight - if it is even offered.
It does seem like a breakdown in their pricing logic rather than anything injurious the passenger did.
I've done it occasionally on shopping sites.
Product A - $48
Shipping - $10
Free shipping for orders over $50.
So I'll pick a random $2 item that I don't want and save $8 on the final price.
Regular internet is frequently more expensive than the same speed internet + basic cable.
Like, obviously they'd prefer to fill the NY -> SF jet with high ticket price customers, but if there are seats leftover, it's still better to fill them with people making lower cost connections to elsewhere than to have them be empty. And if they need to get those people to Tahoe or wherever anyway, then putting them on that plane may also be preferable to putting the last few NY -> SF ticket on fire sale and undermining the usual higher price.
I spent about 4 months arguing with BA about it and eventually got most of the ticket refunded.
I still think about that.
The lawsuit was only struck down because of a lack of transparency in the pricing, as the customer has no way to check the fare they will end up with if they skip a leg. So if they publish prices for skipped legs, it would be a-ok I guess.
So basically this lawsuit has already been dismissed by a lower court, and but Lufthansa is appealing. The entire dynamics here seem like Lufthansa is unlikely to win and even if it does the amount it is claiming ($3K?) is way lower than legal costs, but the publicity of the lawsuit is the entire point they're making. A version of SLAPP, if you will.
I know that airline pricing can be quite odd, but charging less for two flights than for one just seems to defy logic. What am I missing?
IMO it should be illegal. A company can't stop you from buying a car for its parts. They shouldn't be able to do this.
Say SFO to DEN has the big four carriers, each coming in suspiciously close to the exact same price ($199 one week out).
Then Frontier decides to run that route, charging ~$99 one week out.
Three or four of the big carriers will magically drop their fares to match Frontier's.
Frontier, the most mercurial of airlines, will then drop their SFO-DEN route because it's no longer profitable (or shut down completely as they've done a couple times). The big four go back to their old fares or higher.
Now if I wanted to go SFO-SLC to see the Jazz play, that might be $299 one way. If I book the SFO-DEN on Delta, whose hub is in SLC, I get the benefit of the Denver fare. Most people would not think to do that (because they check bags and don't have time as cheap as I do).
Alternatively, one of the cheapest destinations is often Cleveland (go figure). Maybe SFO-CLE is $99 for the few people (and Skiplagged) who go looking for it. That might get you the ability to go to a dozen US cities for $99, all of which are way more expensive when booked directly.
In addition to those comments, I should add, this may be socially-efficient in some non-trivial sense of the word:
1) There is legit value in a direct flight between two cities to people who "really" want to go between them.
2) You may not be able to fill up the planes for the A-B routes and B-C routes.
3) It is legitimately lower value, and thus should cost less, to provide carriage from A to C by putting someone on A-B then B-C, (vs a direct A-C route).
4) So, for an airline to capture the full value of the flights it provides, it needs to charge a high premium to people who really want to fly A-B or B-C, and, if it can't find enough people to fill the planes, to charge a discount to someone using the seats merely for a longer A-C trip.
In this scenario, with hidden city pricing:
1) People who get the direct routes pay more.
2) People who get an indirect route pay less.
3) All seats are utilized.
That coincides with our (or at least my) intuitive notion of what efficiency looks like.
So, who are you hurting when you get off at B with your cheap ticket? You're not paying your "fair share", and thus making it harder to justify running that specific direct A-B route because it's harder to capture the full economic value of the route.
 yes, yes, "is a four-letter word" and all...
This is quite common: in this case, Seattle to Frankfurt has a limited number of direct flights (Lufthansa and Condor only), and people are willing to pay a premium for direct flights; Seattle to Oslo has no direct flights, so Lufthansa is in competition with every other airline that has a hub along a reasonable route (at the very least: KLM/Air France, BA, SAS, Icelandair), and as such there's more competition there.
However, I recently read about the Freedoms of the Air, which define international airline abilities to move about in various ways; and some of that includes where you can stop temporarily (fuel planes, etc) and pick up passengers.
I wonder if some of this has to do with a cost structure that comes out of that? I'm also totally willing to believe that it's not a fully rational system and is more about demand/profit for certain routes.
LH is simply routing passengers like IP packages, where sometimes it may be more economical to, for example, go the long way around to get to the destination. In those cases, they want to charge you the (lower) price of your trip’s usefulness to you, irregardless of the (longer) route it took you to get there.
Barring this practice will just make those flights more expensive, or potentially reduce competition on some rote that a carrier like LH does not service with direct flights.
The narrower court case is simply a matter of contract law. Sure, there need to be exceptions for sudden sickness or actual changes of plans, but those are factual questions, not ones of law at issue here. I’m no fan of naive contract fetishism upholding the right to sign away your first-born n &Cs. But this issue here really does not strike me as overtly one-sided.
They don’t care that the passenger is connecting in this case, they are not what is being optized for. However, if the passenger terminates their trip at the hub, the airline may lose the subsidy making the entire trip a loss for that passenger, despite using less resources on that one particular human.
I don’t know if those are the types of arrangmenta that exist, but it would be hard for me to imagine a scenario where cities that rely heavily on tourism aren’t spending money to encourage airlines to bring more people.
The other part of that is to the customer/passenger, there is a hidden shadow transaction on their flight with a third party. In other forms of logistics, this is common (last mile delivery by USPS, for example), but I don’t think most people like to think that they are thought of as cargo.
Don't use Lufthansa's services.
Personally I don’t get the whole concept of suing your customers. I would just ban him if I was Lufthansa.
Some background on the subject:
What's likely to happen is if the passenger doesn't show up, the flight will be delayed because their bags need to be unloaded.
I can remember once in the past 5 years checking a bag.
Hacker news never seems to like contracts that don't let it do whatever they want, but the person paid and agreed to do a thing, and didn't do it.
The fact that y'all think that thing is stupid is irrelevant.
Don't make contracts you aren't going to keep.
Normal people who aren't lawyers think of tickets as options not futures; that is, an option to board, not an obligation to board. That's how most people's experience of tickets work, starting out with cinema tickets from a young age, and working up to bus and train tickets later on.
It may be that people need to get legal advice every time they buy a ticket, but that's probably not very efficient.
The internet is decreasing the opacity of differential pricing, but premium airlines rely on differential pricing for their business model. Thus this case trying to move to harder constraints than mere obfuscation. The case will have PR value too, in changing the public's understanding of the nature of a plane ticket.
You are focusing on one specific act here (the requirement to use the seat) but your other examples are amenable to plenty of other contractual issues.
For example your cinema tickets include provisions not to bring in food most of the time, or to record/reproduce the movie.
They often include affirmative acts you need to perform as well (if you want to go in that direction). Sometimes minimal, sometimes not.
My "don't make contracts you don't want to keep" was based on the fact that literally every reaction prior to my comment was "this is extortion" or "this is unenforceable", and it is definitely neither.
People rarely think of legal consequences of anything, and that's actually fine and normal.
But if we want that to be the actual legal reality, changes are needed.
Those changes do not come by simply saying "This is all bullshit and stupid and unenforceable".
They come by explicitly realizing they are in fact enforceable and valid, accepting that, and then making these things not contracts (which would be hard) or otherwise setting up a different regime.
(For example, the non-contractual regime that exists to handle baggage liability, or in a bunch of countries, to handle compensation for being kicked off flights)
I do think that it's reasonable for people to assume, up until now, that tickets are options - that if you no longer agree with the terms before you've exercised it, you can just discard the ticket. That's the only real point I wanted to make, because you made it sound as if it's obvious that tickets may reasonably come with positive obligations to exercise, and I didn't think it was obvious to non-lawyers.
I found it interesting that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_cases talks about retaining the ticket being a condition for being bound by the contract, that using the ticket is equivalent to signing the document, and whether a reasonable person would have known about the terms. Sounds like there could be some edge cases in there, but I don't have the education to be enlightening.
So nothing. My only option is to choose a different airline, except it is very difficult since I only have one choice unless I fly 1000 miles out of the way the next monopolized hub city where I still have no power. Airlines have almost all the leverage, so they can delay my flight, taking an hour, 10 hours, or a day of my time and there is no compensation.
At 40 of the 100 largest U.S. airports, a single airline controls a majority of the market, as measured by the number of seats for sale, up from 34 airports a decade earlier.
At 93 of the top 100, one or two airlines control a majority of the seats, an increase from 78 airports, according to AP’s analysis of data from Diio, an airline-schedule tracking service.
> 5.6. A service charge may be payable by any passenger who:
> 5.6.1. fails to arrive for departure at the airport or any other point of departure by the time we have specified (or if no time has actually been specified, with insufficient time to permit completion of official formalities and departure procedures) and, as a consequence, does not use the seat for which a reservation has been made
I couldn't find any example of such a thing in this united airlines contract.
"> 5.6. A service charge may be payable by any passenger who:
> 5.6.1. fails to arrive for departure at the airport or any other point of departure by the time we have specified (or if no time has actually been specified, with insufficient time to permit completion of official formalities and departure procedures) and, as a consequence, does not use the seat for which a reservation has been made"
Also, the court literally found it to be in the contract.
If you have chosen a tariff that requires observance of a fixed ticket sequence, please note: if carriage is not used on all individual legs or not used in the sequence specified on the ticket with otherwise unchanged travel data, we will recalculate the airfare according to your altered routing. The airfare will thereby be determined in accordance with the fare you would have had to pay for your actual routing in your price group on the day of your booking. This fare may be higher or lower than the fare you originally paid.
If the price group you originally booked was not available for the altered routing on the day of the booking, the cheapest available former price group for your altered routing will be taken as the basis for the recalculation.
If on the day of the booking for your altered routing, a higher fare would have been determined, we will subsequently recover the difference taking into account the fare already paid. Please note that we can make carriage dependent on whether you have paid this difference in price.
Well, for starters, Lufthansa wouldn't have any way to know that the passenger flew to Berlin; for all it knew, he could have just missed his flight to Oslo. But if somehow this came to Lufthansa's knowledge, would they still have a valid case against him?
A person doesn't get on the flight. The airline can go after him for inaction. The whole transaction is based on purchases of services from LH. The customer elected not to accept all services detailed in the transaction.
Should you expect the grocery store to sue you for food waste?
Definition of extortion: the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.
By that definition, any instance where someone is sued for money is extortion, that's clearly not how it works.
If outbound then you can leave and come back in as long as it's the same day (rail days start at 4am). If it's an open return, then you have the entire month to split up and resume your journey. There's nothing to stop you getting off half way through and not returning.
Edit: Apologies, this does depend on ticket type, but should apply to most off-peak and super off peak and open return tickets:
"Break of journey is allowed on the outward and return portions of Off-Peak tickets unless otherwise indicated by a restriction shown against the ticket's validity code.
You may start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station along the route of travel on Off-Peak tickets unless the ticket restriction for the journey you are making does not allow it. If you intend to start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station, please call 03457 48 49 50 to check if it is available on your specific journey."
I've updated my comment above with more information.