Old Mar 7, 19, 10:54 am
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 13,074
Originally Posted by seadog83 View Post
Out of curiosity why are airline seats so unique and different in terms of many commodities?

Essentially when you buy a ticket in advance, you're buying a futures contract for travel. You're positing that committing to the price today, will be lower than if you just show up at the airport in a month or whatever. No different than buy committing to the price of $100 bushels of corn today, you're assuming it will be cheaper than a month down the road.

Now, if the price surges due to drought, but you really don't need that corn, you can sell your right to buy at a great price. Why shouldn't you be able to do this with airline tickets?

I booked a flight to the states 10 days ago, and noticed that the flight for my days has gone up 3x to $1200, while the next day is still the same $400 I paid. Since clearly there is a huge demand for that one day, I would have no problem going one day later if it would allow me to cash in. In all fact aside from the loosest of schedules, my dates were entirely dictated by the cheapest flights.

It seems that really the airline has all the benefits of every side here. Unlike options you can't let higher priced ones expire worthless and buy on the open market if the price drops. You similarly can't take advantage of rising prices if demand suddenly shoots up. I suppose via efficient market theory that by retaining all the rights and profits that that will translate to lower fares because if they don't make it by reselling the same seat twice someone bailed on, they will make it from higher fares, but still just seems unique to a handful of industries that operate this way.
Would you really only want to be able to buy from ticket resellers rather than the airlines directly? I know I wouldn't, but if you allow the reselling of the tickets, then companies will buy them, create artificial demand, be able to command a premium price, and in the end the only people better off are the middle men.

The idea of having a 'my plans are flexible' box on booking would be interesting, you could select your parameters (e.g. same day needed but different time ok, or +/- 3 days etc.) and if the airline needs you to, they move you (with appropriate compensation - could take the form of an upgrade, or a future travel voucher maybe?)
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