Strange pricing to PEK

 
Old May 7, 04, 8:40 pm
  #1  
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Strange pricing to PEK

I'd like to travel from DTW to PEK and back in July/August. Found out the best fare is in M class. I found M class availability DTW -> NRT -> PEK on the date I wanted to depart - great. However on my return date there is only B and Y class availability from PEK (via NRT) to DTW, MSP, LAX, SFO, or PDX. There IS M class available from PEK to SEA via NRT. There also is M class on a connecting flight from SEA to DTW. So, I try to book PEK -> NRT -> SEA -> DTW in M. Can't do it - nwa.com, expedia, etc and even the elite line all say I must book in B. Interestingly, nwa.com initially does find seats in M class, but when I go to select the itinerary I get always get the message that seats are no longer available. The elite line people say I can't circumvent the lack of M class availability from PEK to DTW by flying via SEA. I did find out that if I do a stopover in SEA I can book in M. (I realize that if I book in B I can use miles to upgrade - but upgrade seats aren't available. Not sure I want to spend the extra $600 on the chance that upgrade seats might become available later.)

Anyone run into this before? Any luck in resolving it?
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Old May 7, 04, 9:19 pm
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You're running into what's known as married segments. While each segment may have M availability, when put together, it doesn't necessarily. Essentially NWA yield management has weighted DTW-PEK differently than the single segments within your itinerary, as they probably figure people in DTW will use them anyway so they don't have to offer as many cheap seats.

The stopover, as you discovered, is one way around this. Perhaps change your routing to a lightly loaded routing (e.g., the new PDX flight?), or take the stopover, maybe even in a different city (e.g., HNL if permitted) if SEA doesn't suit you. Other ways to get around this are trying each and every travel site you can think of (they all have slight nuances in how they book). You can also try throwing in a codeshare -- that might throw them off as well.

Finally, you can always terminate your trip in a different city that is relatively local to you if the fares are similar. But in DTW, there really isn't much in the way of an alternate airport. So, if there are no other options, end your trip in a totally different city, and buy another ticket back to DTW. Since you're taking about a $600 difference here, you have a lot of room to do this. If you end the trip in, say, JFK, that'll probably knock off a few bucks since it's cheaper to fly JFK-PEK than DTW-PEK. Then, purchase a separate ticket back to DTW, which will still result in a net savings.
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Old May 7, 04, 9:55 pm
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Thanks Channa. I think I'll just do the stopover in SEA. The flight from NRT gets in at 8 in the morning. There is a flight that leaves the next day at 1 a.m. and it works as a stopover for M class availability purposes, but is within 24 hours so doesn't count as a stopover for pricing purposes! With this fare stopovers are allowed, but cost $100 each.

By the way, I noticed that on many days there is M class transpacific to/from SEA, but no other US location. NW must be having problems filling the SEA flights.
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Old May 7, 04, 10:11 pm
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Since NW replaced 744 by 757 or DC10, fares to PEK have been ridiculously high. Meanwhile, UA has ORD-PEK and SFO-PEK(in June) daily so most people to PEK will fly UA instead of NW (unless they want to fly other Asian airlines).

Another solution is to do an open jaw: DTW-PEK, PVG-DTW. If you have time, then you can visit Shanghai. Since PVG-NRT uses a 744, M fares are available for most of summer.

On a separate note, I am going to write to NW about upgradable fares to China. While M fare can be upgraded to all other Asian countries, however to China you need B fare, a difference of $600. Do NW marketing guys think people going to or from China are richer?
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Old May 7, 04, 10:35 pm
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Don't waste miles on upgrading on NRT-PEK.

The plane is small. The seat is not WBC!!
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Old May 7, 04, 11:33 pm
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Originally Posted by VinceLee
Don't waste miles on upgrading on NRT-PEK.

The plane is small. The seat is not WBC!!
Actually, that was true until summer--they have been using 757s for the last year, since SARS.......but for now, at least in July and August, I've found they're using DC-10s, so you would get a "real" WBC seat (of course, good luck finding one!)
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Old May 8, 04, 12:41 am
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Originally Posted by RobertH
NW must be having problems filling the SEA flights.
Very much the contrary. NW could fill two planes SEA-NRT it seems.

Today, I flew SEA-DTW and walked passed the SEA-NRT gate. I think it was too early for any gate agents to be there but the scrolling message at the bottom of the gate sign said, "Volunteers are needed. We are offering $750.00 or a free ticket to anywhere in the 48 states/Canada".

$750!!!!!!!! I was really wishing at that point I was on that flight. Darn.

-RM
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Old May 8, 04, 8:14 pm
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Originally Posted by RobertH
By the way, I noticed that on many days there is M class transpacific to/from SEA, but no other US location. NW must be having problems filling the SEA flights.
That would surprise me. I've been on it twice this year, and both times they were seeking volunteers.
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Old May 8, 04, 11:35 pm
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Originally Posted by BOS-NWA
On a separate note, I am going to write to NW about upgradable fares to China. While M fare can be upgraded to all other Asian countries, however to China you need B fare, a difference of $600. Do NW marketing guys think people going to or from China are richer?
This is a two way game. Have you ever figure out what is the M and B fare out of China? I believe they are a lot cheaper than those from Japan, and they are a big difference from the same base fare from the states. So you can only say Northwest think people going to China IS rich.
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Old May 9, 04, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by gachen
This is a two way game. Have you ever figure out what is the M and B fare out of China? I believe they are a lot cheaper than those from Japan, and they are a big difference from the same base fare from the states. So you can only say Northwest think people going to China IS rich.

Well, M fare to China is about $1100 and B fare is $1600-1800.

Indeed, fares to Japan could be expensive, however, fares to SIN, MNL, TPE, SEL, BKK are often no more expensive than China.

So my question is, why single out China? With M fare (similar dollar figure), passengers to BKK can upgrade the main fflight segment DTW/MSP-NRT but passengers to PVG/PEK/HKG can not. That does not seem fair.
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Old May 9, 04, 2:28 am
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Top management seems to figure that by adding PDX-NRT they can reduce the SEA-NRT market from a 742 (353 seats) all the way down to an A332 (243 seats) eventually. That makes for 483 seats for the Pacific NW market to Tokyo and beyond. I don't think that this is wise though, since SEA-NRT has a ton of Alaska Air feed from SEA, while PDX does not have nearly as much feed. Nor the population. I would not be surprised if once the PDX benifits end they switch the flight to a second daily SEA-NRT. Unless they are thinking of sticking in PDX, which I doubt..
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Old May 9, 04, 8:38 am
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One-Way Impact with Hmong Refugee Resettlement?

I'm not sure if this plays into things or not, but from approximately June until likely the first part of 2005, approximately 15,000 Hmong refugees will be flown one-way to the U.S. from Thailand with a maximum of 35 per flight. Here is a brief link from the U.S. State Dept. from last December on the resettlement program and one can Google up plenty more:

http://www.state.gov/g/prm/rls/fs/2003/27420.htm

Again, I have no idea how something like this would impact Asia-U.S. flights, but it doesn't seem like it would be totally insignificant, since it is a relatively large number of people over a relatively short period of time.
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