The wide range of prices encountered when shopping for an airline ticket, make this a daunting task. What factors affect the price?
- Fuel cost has one of the greatest influences on tickets. As the price of crude rises, so do the airline's costs. Airlines that negotiate fuel purchases well into the future can avoid sudden spikes, and pass on savings to the customer.
- A weak economy causes people to cut back on non-essential travel. This encourages airlines to give discounts to lure fliers back. Conversely, when business is good, and planes are filled to capacity, there is little incentive to offer low price airline tickets.
- Airport fees are another part of ticket prices. Airlines using smaller airports save on fees.
- Destination is a factor. Competition will greatly affect price. An airline that enjoys a virtual monopoly for a particular route can charge pretty much what they want. Those flying international routes have stiff competition from other countries, and have to keep prices in line with what they are offering.
- Budget airlines can sometimes provide the cheapest airline tickets through a "no-frills" approach. This is most effective on short-haul domestic flights.
- Timing plays a role. If departure time is nearing, and a flight still has a lot of empty seats, the airline may offer them at a substantial reduction. If flying on a particular day isn't critical, it may worth holding out until the last minute.
- Where the ticket is purchased can affect its cost. Travel agents get bargains from the carriers, but charge for their services. The internet produces some bargains, but be careful who you are dealing with. Occasionally the airlines' own websites have unadvertised discounts.
- Plain, old-fashioned greed. Air travel is a market driven economy, and airlines will charge as much as they can get away with. Don't believe anyone. Do your own research.
When shopping for cheap flights, be aware of what you are actually comparing. One airline advertises a flight to an Asian destination, as $800, while another gives a price of $1300. Reading the fine print shows that the "cheap fare" has another $700 in hidden fees and surcharges, meaning it is actually $200 more than the all-inclusive fare.
There are many factors which affect the cost of an airline ticket. How well the carrier manages these costs will determine their bottom line. Competition is the key, airlines that most want your business will offer the best deals. Careful shopping will help find the cheapest flights.