BA flight pricing

  • I always thought airlines' flight fares were a bit .. well random.

    But this is just.. WTF.

    Berlin - London - New York: €379.

    London - New York (the same flight!): €545.

    So British Airways is basically paying me €166 for booking an additional flight?

    If I lived in London I could actually fly to Berlin with easyJet or whatever and STILL save money. Seriously, what are these guys smoking?

  • London is their hub, they have low competition on flights from and to london. In Berlin they have competition, both from operators flying directly (which most people prefer, for obvious reasons) and from Lufthansa (i guess). So with a high Berlin-NY price they won't get extra customers, but if they can lure some people to fill their flight to new york, that will only increase their profit. The biggest enemy of an airline company is an empty seat. From that perspective, these practices are entirely sane, and i can tell you they're widespread. They have most of the time also taken measures that if you buy the Berlin-London-NY ticket you really have to board in Berlin. They won't let you enter in London. Although it is sane from business practice point of view, i doubt if they have taken into account the indignation of their customers over policies like this.

  • I hate the feeling of having paid more for a flight than the guy sitting next to me.

    In Germany, there used to be an airline with fixed prices. No matter when you booked, which seat, which day of the week the flight was going, if it was a holiday... Just one price. For example, EUR 44 to fly from Hamburg to Stuttgart, one leg. That was cool.

    They got bought by a competitor, and now they have WTF prices again. *sigh*

  • bouk: What you say about the competition aspect is all very true - but my point was that the price difference is ridiculously high. You need to board in Berlin? So what, you save enough money to fly and sleep there - additional sightseeing paid by BA..

  • Also, you'll find that round-trip tickets can be cheaper than one-way tickets.  Apparently the airlines think that if you only want to go one way, then you really want to get there, so you'll be willing to pay more to make that happen.

  • Want more (apparently) WTF pricing?  For legacy carriers:

    The lowest fare Key West - Fort Lauderdale is about $120 one way--144 miles.
    The lowest fare New York - Fort Lauderdale is about $65 one way--1073 miles.

    Pricing has more to do with supply/demand and competition--viewed in that way, prices aren't that illogical. There's a ton of carriers competing for passengers in New York.  Not so much in Key West.

    BA is probably just trying to encourage more people to book on the Berlin flight.  It's also worth noting that at the lowest prices, London - New York is cheaper than Berlin - New York. What's likely going on is that the Berlin flight hasn't filled up enough, so they're trying to stimulate traffic there.


  • I don't see the relevance.

    Check whether Key West - Fort Lauderdale - New York is cheaper than Fort Lauderdale - New York - then we're talking 🙂


    p.s. my prices were for round-trips and the cheapest direct London - New York flight I can find is in fact BA, what did you have in mind? I doubt you'll find one for less than €400..



  • If you're flying from Birmingham International (airport), getting there has some WTF pricing.

    Firstly realise that Cambridge - Birmingham International by train is a change at Birmingham New Street.

    Of course, you might not be flying, you might just be going to New Street. (Nice shopping centre, the bullring, that you need never step outside to get to, in the event it's pissing it down)

    But the train ticket to International is cheaper! So you save money by buying a ticket to go further.

    (And yes, they COULD try to stop you leaving at New Street. But it would be rather unlikely and I'm not sure they'd legally be able to do so.)


  • Welcome to the Wonderful World of Price Discrimination. They will try and charge you (and everyone else on the trip) as much as they think they are able to get away with.


    This is, of course, imperfect. They rely on certain indicators. For example - if it's a business flight, you can probably get away with charging more than for a personal flight. How do you tell them apart? Well, a business flight, you head out during the week and return to spend the weekend with your family. If it's a personal flight, you stay the weekend, for fun. 🙂

  • @fennec said:

    Welcome to the Wonderful World of Price Discrimination. They will try and charge you (and everyone else on the trip) as much as they think they are able to get away with.

    There's a little bit more to it than that.  Consider trying to fill a 300-seat aircraft.  Assume the airline "needs" to sell the seats at an average price of $200.  But on the demand side, to make it simple, there are 100 people willing to pay $300, 100 people willing to pay $200, and 100 people willing to pay $100.  So if the airline sets the price at $200 for everyone, they lose the 100 people willing to pay only $100, and they only get $40,000, and 100 empty seats.  That last sentence is the key point.  The demand for seats at the average price is below the number of seats available on the aircraft.

    The people willing to pay $300 are happy, because they saved $100, but the people who can only pay $100 are out of luck, they can't go anywhere.

    But if they charge what each customer is willing to pay, then the seats fill up, and the airline gets $60,000.  Meanwhile, all passengers get where they want to go, and have paid the price they are willing to pay.  The airline has achieved their goal of an average price of $200, but only by charging different amounts.  It increases economic efficiency significantly.

    Sadly, the actual rules are mind-bogglingly more complicated (especially when considering competitive factors), and really strange things happen sometimes... then we get to make fun of them on this site 🙂

  • Not sure what happened now, but they seem to have changed the prices. (For all flights? no idea) The new prices are (for a date far far away): 

    Berlin - London - New York €515 (Delta's direct flight costs €400, BA previously had €379)

    London - New York €810 (Delta does it for €530, BA previously had €545)


    So.. what is this about now? That's some massive increase rocketing them out of competition?

  • Flights always have strange pricing.  It's due to a lot of different factors.  As mentioned before, if there's little competition for flights outside of a city, the prices are going to be higher.  Also there's the issue of making sure the planes are as full as possible, they want you to fly round trip, because that ensures a matching flight back will have a seat filled, so they price flights that aren't straight forward round trips higher.

    The weirdest I saw was when I was trying to go to Europe last year.  The prices and flights were something like this:

    Philadelphia -> New York -> London and London->Philadelphia->New York $500.

    However, I live in philadelphia, so I checked to see what it would be like for the same set of flights, but get off the plane in Philly rather than flying on to New York.  It would cost me an additional $200.  I was tempted to just buy the ticket that only cost $500 and just get off the plane at Philly, but I figured that would be some sort of security risk or something.

  • Yeah, and don't check any luggage if you are getting off the plane at a connection...

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