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Old 02-08-2018, 11:45 AM
 
359 posts, read 712,438 times
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I am researching a trip to Panama City, Panama. I live in San Antonio. The easiest route is to fly from San Antonio to Panama City via either Houston (United) or Atlanta (Delta). The cheapest fare for that flight, on either airline, is $812. Sometimes the cost to drive to Houston and fly from there is significantly cheaper; enough to justify the 4 hour drive each way. In this case the cost from Houston is $503.


OK, so I learn that there are flights from Las Vegas to Panama City, and decided to check that pricing just out of curiosity. The price is as low as $421, which surprised me. For comparison purposes however I picked a United flight with a cost of $436. That flight stops in Houston where you must change planes to go onward to Panama City. So first I am wondering why is it almost $70 cheaper ($436 vs. $503) to fly out of Vegas, since you have to stop in Houston to begin with? Next I looked at the actual flight number (UA1727) that goes from Houston to Panama for the $436 fare. I then checked the fare for that same exact flight (UA1727) if you catch it from Houston to Panama, and the cost is $913! Wow! So, if I wanted to drive to Houston to catch that flight it would cost me $477 more than flying to Vegas, and then coming back to Houston to catch the same plane? Why is that?
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Old 02-08-2018, 01:22 PM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,351,920 times
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It is not possible to understand airline pricing.

That said, I ran your trip though skiplagged two different ways, using the random dates of departure March 7 with a return of March 21, both Wednesdays.

From SAT to PTY and return, minimum $811.

From IAH to PTY and return, $484.

Looks to me like you should make the drive to Houston and start the trip there.

https://skiplagged.com/
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:13 PM
 
359 posts, read 712,438 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azoria View Post
It is not possible to understand airline pricing.

That said, I ran your trip though skiplagged two different ways, using the random dates of departure March 7 with a return of March 21, both Wednesdays.

From SAT to PTY and return, minimum $811.

From IAH to PTY and return, $484.

Looks to me like you should make the drive to Houston and start the trip there.

https://skiplagged.com/
Yeah, those dates and prices are pretty close to what I used/came up with. Just don't understand how it is cheaper to fly from Vegas, via Houston, then it is to fly directly from Houston. And really don't understand how the price variance ($477) for the same airplane from Vegas vs. Houston is so drastically different. I mean I can sometimes get a roundtrip flight from San Antonio to Vegas for $80 on Frontier. So, assuming I was travelling without significant luggage, I could theoretically fly from San Antonio, to Vegas, to Houston, to Panama City cheaper than I could fly from San Antonio to Panama City via Houston. Guess that is some sort of airline pricing secret. I have noticed that it usually seems to cost more to fly anywhere from San Antonio than it does to go to the same location from either Austin or Houston. Maybe something to do with the fees airlines are charged to operate out of San Antonio vs. the other airports?
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
10,511 posts, read 8,756,105 times
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Some garduates of Stanford's operations research program developed sophisicated software for ticket pricing, minute by minute, based on supply of and demand for seats, using his historical data that was continually updated to reflect the effect of current demand trends on past averages.

You and I can't figure it out. The only defense is to watch the pricing frequently and buy early. A few seats are often sold early to restrict supply as time passes, allowing seat prices to rise, unless there is empirical evidence to the contrary.
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Upland, CA
3,661 posts, read 6,483,307 times
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What about from Austin? I am seeing flights for around 500.
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:51 PM
 
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,126 posts, read 17,129,667 times
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SouthWest has some flight for $154-185/OW from San Antonio, TX to Panama City Beach, FL. If you can book few weeks ahead and fly mid week.

SW is only bookable on its own website, so you won't see there prices on the Airfare search sites.

Its a little cheaper if you drive up to Houston, but probably not enough to make up for the time/gas/parking .

You can also look at Pensacola fl for flight into there.
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:57 PM
 
359 posts, read 712,438 times
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I am talking about Panama City, Panama (PTY) and not Panama City, Florida. Google ITA Matrix shows $812 from Austin, and Southwest doesn't fly to Panama.
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Old 02-08-2018, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,680 posts, read 16,095,286 times
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Airline pricing has less to do with how much it actually costs to go between two points than it does with how much they think they can extract from your wallet. A couple of factors:

1. Are the origin and destination airports dominated by one carrier or is there a lot of competition among carriers?

Las Vegas- McCarran- the largest carrier there is Southwest, and they have just over 1/3 of the passenger count. The ultra low cost carriers (Allegiant/Spirit/Frontier) are about 17% of the passenger count. American and Delta have 7-8% of the passenger count.

And more importantly in this case, Spirit will sell you a bare bones ticket between Las Vegas and Panama City, Panama for $450-$550. The legacies know this and need to price that route not identically to Spirit, but close enough that a ticket buyer can justify paying $40-$80 more for a slightly more comfortable seat, a soft drink and pack of cookies included and a slightly less draconian baggage policy.

Houston Intergalactic- fortress hub for United where UA has something like 75% of the passenger count when you combine mainline and regional carriers. And because of that lack of competition, prices go higher. (There's a certain amount of competition from Southwest out of Houston Hobby, but Southwest's route network is very limited internationally and there are also some limits domestically when it comes to secondary markets)

Austin- not Houston, not DFW (American's fortress hub) and a nicely competitive market where Southwest has about 36% of the passenger count for a high mark with the other big players splitting the traffic in nice-sized chunks.

2. Business or leisure market?

Business travelers pay more for plane tickets than leisure travelers do as a population. So unless you're talking the big trade show events in Vegas, it's a mostly leisure airfare market where people are not flying OPM (Other People's Money) and willing to put up with the ULCCs to have more money for their vacation fun.
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Upland, CA
3,661 posts, read 6,483,307 times
Reputation: 4128
Quote:
Originally Posted by TowBar View Post
I am talking about Panama City, Panama (PTY) and not Panama City, Florida. Google ITA Matrix shows $812 from Austin, and Southwest doesn't fly to Panama.
For when are you trying to go? I see flights in May for 539
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:49 PM
 
Location: Boonies
1,829 posts, read 2,734,318 times
Reputation: 2372
I think flying out of SA is expensive unless you are flying to Canada!
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