What’s a Fair Fare, Anyway?

There are any number of web sites that will help you find the lowest air fares, and to some extent they do. But there are other factors affecting the price of your ticket and, unless you travel constantly and learn the hard way, it’s almost impossible to figure all the angles. The airlines all have their reasons, of course, but the more you try to find some logic to the fares, the less sense it all seems to make to rational minds.

For example, I’ve been considering alternatives for returning to the U.S. next July from Paris. Or perhaps from London. You can literally spend hours pouring over the various web sites, plugging in different departure cities … different arrival cities … fudging by a couple of days in hopes of stumbling on a hidden lower fare.

And when you do find a really cheap fare, you notice that the total flight time is … twenty-two hours and 35 minutes?? Well, yeah … it’s Turkish Airlines and you’re flying from Paris to New York by way of Istanbul!

Finally out of patience and staring dumbly at pages of notes which no longer make any sense at all, I decided to keep it simple and go back to the basics: (1) an economy seat … (2) Paris to New York … (3) on July 2nd. That’s it. Plug that in and go for whatever is the cheapest fare that pops up.

Sounds good, but wait!

The lowest fare is $550 on Icelandair. But there’s a stop in Reykjavik.

Damn! Well, let’s filter results and search only for “non-stop” flights. Up pops American Airlines: 

CDG-JFK – $2900 

Twenty-nine hundred bucks!! On second thought, Reykjavik isn’t really that far out of the way. And we’ll only be on the ground there for 50 minutes. And I’m fed up with …  Wait a minute! Maybe I have enough miles!