My least favorite question related to travel: What’s the most expensive airline ticket?

The reason I brought this up was because I saw an article on Yahoo! talking about Virgin Atlantic’s amazing new upper class suite. It says stuff like how the price ranges from $3000 to over $10000 for a fully flexible option. A couple of months ago, I read a post on Cranky Flier explain how airline pricing works and answered my question on how a flight from New York to DC can be more expensive than a flight to Cinncinati, stopping in DC (getting the same exact flight plus another one for cheaper than just the one flight). It turns out airline pricing is based off of demand. The more in demand the route is the more expensive. Here is a clear example:

Lets do Colombo, Sri Lanka to New York, one way. There probably aren’t too many people who fly that route. I go to Expedia (because you can use multiple carriers) and search first class. The cheapest flight combination was with one stop in Abu Dhabi with Ethiad for a little of $2000. If I were to buy just the Abu Dhabi to New York alone, it would be over $7000. I remember seeing a news report saying how on one flight, there were 40 different fares.

Sometimes I’ll be looking at Singapore Airlines’ A380 business class and someone will come up to me and say, “How much does that cost?” or “Is that the most expensive airplane seat”? I always respond, “well a round trip on Delta to Rome in a 10 year old business class seat that has multiple stains (speaking of which, the business class product on most of their 767’s is narrower than the economy on Singapore Airline’s A380’s) costs over $7000 for sometimes, this seat which happens to be 34 inches wide costs the same amount for a round trip to Singapore.” There are some cases where you can see a first class suite on an Emirates A380 go for the same amount as a one way flight from New York to Denver in a crappy first class seat. The trick to finding fares like these is to find flights where there is a stopover (not where you change planes though). So Emirates flies their A380s from Hong Kong to Dubai with a stop in Bangkok. Now if you were to just buy your ticket on the same flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok, you would get that cheap fare. Yes that is the plane with the shower spa.

Fares will fluctuate day by day and to find the best fares I reccomend using Ita Matrix. The matrix searches for a flight and displays all the prices by day. If you’re trying to figure out which week this summer to travel, it will show you exactly when it will be cheapest. There are also more advanced things you can do with it such as create routing codes but I’ll be honest, I have not a clue on how to do that.

To conclude I would like to say: There is no such thing as the most expensive airline seat. Sometimes the best looking seats can be significantly cheaper than their older, uglier and less awesome cousins. Most of the time the product has little to no influence on the actual price of the ticket.

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