The Airfare Discrepancy: What You See Is Not What You Get…Its Not Just Low Cost Carriers

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30/05/2009 – The Airfare Discrepancy: What You See Is Not What You Get…Its Not Just Low Cost Carriers

Earlier this month I wrote about ‘The Real Coast Of Some Low Cost Carriers’ in this post: 18/05/2009 – Ryanair’s New Fee To ‘Check In’ & The Real Cost Of Some Low Cost Carriers

While many low cost carriers (LCCs) nickel-and-dime passengers to the point where their ultra low cost fares often are not more cost effective than ‘full-service’ airlines, the advertised fares for many ‘full-service’ airlines may still be quite deceiving.

As an example I searched for the current lowest airfare sales between New York’s JFK (JFK) and London’s Heathrow (LHR). The lowest fares I found were attractive at US$275 each way for a holiday in Europe, however there are some problems with budgeting for these advertised fares. These fare discrepancies are due to taxes and fees outside of the control of the airlines themselves.

The first obvious hurdle is finding flights that have seats with these fares available. With a flexible schedule finding your US$275 airfare should be attainable.

For example, lets look at two British Airways (BA) flights that are currently available for US$275 each way.

BA178 (744)
Booking Class: Q
Dep: JFK 8:40am
Arv: LHR 8:35pm +1 day

BA175 (744)
Booking Class: Q
Dep: LHR 10:25am
Arv: JFK 12:55pm

At US$275 each the airfare should be US$550, however the total fare is US$704.09, a difference of US$154.09. Where did this extra US$154.09 come from? The excess fees include Airport Charges; Fuel Surcharges; Government Fees & Taxes; Insurance Surcharges; Security Fees…and of course tax.

In reality, especially for a non-stop flight to London from the US excess fees of US$154.09 are pretty reasonable!

At times taxes can equal nearly half-the-cost of an airline ticket (and I have flown a few where the taxes have exceeded the actual cost of my airline ticket). A prime example of taxes nearly doubling the cost of an advertised fare can found with V Australia‘s fares between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney (SYD).

For travel between LAX and SYD on the 25th of June, returning on the 29th of June, the base round-trip fare on V Australia is US$599, however the total fare is US$890.70. This seems like a steep difference from the advertised fare doesn’t it? Well the total fare is due to US$291.70 in taxes, fees and surcharges. The excess fees levied against the ticket are more than 40% of the actual cost of the ticket!

So as we enter the busy summer travel season, travellers should be aware of all the potential costs they’ll face when booking tickets. When looking at attractive airfares be sure to check all the associated taxes & fees with your tickets when booking your flights.

Happy Flying!


  1. Wish you had written about this a couple of months ago when I was buying my ticket to Heathrow from Houston. Imagine my surprise to see a $400 round trip fare on Continental balloon to much more at the purchase confirmation screen. 😉

  2. For international travel, the blog is prob’ly right. But when flying within the states, though, I suggest that if SouthWest flies there, just use it and be done with it. They have low fixed fares, no fees, a simple check-in, no assigned seating and no extra’s – just a flight from here to there. They’re consistently ranked the top airline in customer service and have one of the highest on-time records due to their simple seating.

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