THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
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THE MIDDLE SEAT
Airline Fare Riddle: One Route, Two Prices
It’s the Same Round-Trip, but the Fare Depends on Which Direction You’re Traveling
By SCOTT MCCARTNEY Jan. 7, 2015 7:21 p.m. ET
There seems no end to ways airfares can confound and frustrate travelers.
Airlines charge different prices for the same trip depending on which direction passengers are flying. For example, the average price paid for tickets on Los Angeles-Honolulu round-trips was $614 if the trip originated in Los Angeles, 7.5% more expensive than the $571 average-ticket price if you started in Honolulu. That is among the findings of a study conducted for The Wall Street Journal by Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes tickets for online and traditional travel agencies.
International flights had the biggest directional price differences. Between New York and London, travelers paid $2,507 on average if they started in New York and $1,672 if they began the trip departing from London, an $835, or 50%, boost. Between New York and Tel Aviv, people leaving from the U.S. paid $354, or 28%, more on average than people in Israel—$1,618 if the round-trip began from New York’s Kennedy Airport versus $1,264 if the trip started at Tel Aviv.
In theory, just as many passengers are traveling back and forth between any pair of cities. Travelers who head to Hawaii from Los Angeles are also competing for seats on return flights home from Honolulu. And there isn’t any cost difference to the airlines for the round-trip no matter which direction is flown first.
“I think the U.S. consumer is being gouged by the airlines, but it’s the nature of commerce,” said Guy Millo, chief executive officer of Da’at Educational Expeditions,
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