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Consolidated "Why is this UA fare so expensive?" Thread [2016-forward]

Consolidated "Why is this UA fare so expensive?" Thread [2016-forward]

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Old Apr 6, 20, 2:14 pm   -   Wikipost
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Potential reasons for high fares
-- the lower fare classes are sold out
-- the lower fare classes are not available due to fare rule restrictions
..... day of the week travel restrictions, Saturday night stay requirement, minimum stay requirement, advance purchase requirements, ...
-- desired fares are not combinable
-- discount fares not available for one-ways, only roundtrips Why are international OWs so expensive, such high fare classes?
-- discount inventory for codeshare marketing airline is gone, but flight operator may have discount fare (or the reverse)
-- Plating -- airlines restrict the best fare to their ticket stock, meaning ticketing that flight on another ticket stock will be more expensive
-- Airline is figuring it will still sell (due to last minute purchases0 even if the competition is lower earlier. Such as peak leisure periods or special events.
-- Airline is placing a premium on non-stop (monopoly?) versus alternative connecting routings

If you find an expensive flight, start by checking the fare class and compare to the less expensive option -- that generally will explain a lot.
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Old Feb 15, 16, 10:47 am
  #1  
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Consolidated "Why is this UA fare so expensive?" Thread [2016-forward]

I went to the web site to book the following itnerary with W fares on United on mid-June.

IAD-FRA flight 989
FRA-HAM on LH
MUC-IAD flight 107

I will go from HAM to MUC by train.

The fares I got were about 500 from IAD-FRA, $535 from FRA-HAM and then about $850 MUC-IAD. I found the FRA-HAM fare too high so I went to the LH web site and the one-way fare is about $120. So went back to united.com and tried to book only IAD-FRA and MUC-IAD. Without the FRA-HAM connection, the IAD-FRA fare jumped to over $900. I did not understand why the fare jumped so high, so I called the 1K desk. First agent said that it was not her area to look for fares (???) and suggested that I call web support ( a real non-starter). I then called back and got a supervisor who said that this difference in fares is perfectly reasonable. I find it rather strange that it costs about the same to go to HAM via FRA than to get off the plane at FRA.

Any thoughts?
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Old Feb 15, 16, 11:38 am
  #2  
 
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Another fare I've been wondering about:
SFO-PHL is regularly ~$750 for the non-stop one way (in either direction), but reduces to $450ish for round trip flights(e.g. SFO-PHL-SFO).

I didn't realize round trip was cheaper than one way for domestic flights...anyone know what's going on here?
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Old Feb 15, 16, 11:47 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by mooses41 View Post
Another fare I've been wondering about:
SFO-PHL is regularly ~$750 for the non-stop one way (in either direction), but reduces to $450ish for round trip flights(e.g. SFO-PHL-SFO).

I didn't realize round trip was cheaper than one way for domestic flights...anyone know what's going on here?
That's an old pricing model that was pervasive when I started flying in the 80s. The classified section of the newspaper was full of one-way tickets for sale because RTs were so much cheaper than OWs and there was no name verification back then. People bought the RT and attempted to sell the return (and I seem to recall that you could make the return date "open", enhancing its value).

I've noticed this new pricing scheme as well...not sure what exactly has prompted this change.


Oh, and I was amused by a recent search. DEN-MAF (Midland, TX) RT $750 (as usual). DEN-MAF-IAH-DEN (multicity) $450.
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Old Feb 15, 16, 11:53 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by mooses41 View Post
Another fare I've been wondering about:
SFO-PHL is regularly ~$750 for the non-stop one way (in either direction), but reduces to $450ish for round trip flights(e.g. SFO-PHL-SFO).

I didn't realize round trip was cheaper than one way for domestic flights...anyone know what's going on here?
Sometimes and when it is your choice is obvious. Especially if there is a residual value on the return. Right?
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Old Feb 15, 16, 3:25 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by euslaner View Post
I went to the web site to book the following itnerary with W fares on United on mid-June.

IAD-FRA flight 989
FRA-HAM on LH
MUC-IAD flight 107

I will go from HAM to MUC by train.

The fares I got were about 500 from IAD-FRA, $535 from FRA-HAM and then about $850 MUC-IAD. I found the FRA-HAM fare too high so I went to the LH web site and the one-way fare is about $120. So went back to united.com and tried to book only IAD-FRA and MUC-IAD. Without the FRA-HAM connection, the IAD-FRA fare jumped to over $900. I did not understand why the fare jumped so high, so I called the 1K desk. First agent said that it was not her area to look for fares (???) and suggested that I call web support ( a real non-starter). I then called back and got a supervisor who said that this difference in fares is perfectly reasonable. I find it rather strange that it costs about the same to go to HAM via FRA than to get off the plane at FRA.

Any thoughts?
Golden rule (especially with int'l itineraries) is not to look too closely at the segment price shown to you by UA.com. You cannot end-on-end any of the IAD to Germany W fares, so anything with three segments that creates a stopover is going to fared that way. Whenever you have a single fare across a stopover point in multi-city, the fare construction will split the fare 50/50 on the way the US site shows you the fares. Essentially, you are seeing a variant of this.

Originally Posted by mooses41 View Post
I didn't realize round trip was cheaper than one way for domestic flights...anyone know what's going on here?
It is, fairly often actually.

Code:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cxr     Basis      BC  Cbn    Price   Tp  AP  Min  Max   Days    Rf  
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 UA  LRK14AKS       L   Y    $166.51  RT  14             TW  S    N
 UA  TRA21AXS       T   Y    $195.35  RT  21                      N
...
 UA  MAA00AFN       M   Y    $705.12  OW                          N
 UA  BAA00AFY       B   Y    $844.65  OW                          Y
Lowest two round trip and one way fares on SFO to PHL. One-way is almost a joke at that point.
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Old Feb 15, 16, 5:07 pm
  #6  
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findark,

OK, I understand, so I looked at the link and went to Expert Flyer and got a quote for a W fare IAD-FRA r/t (no HAM, no MUC). And here is what I got:

WHW47NCE UA W Round-Trip 1312.00(USD)

Looks good. I can book FRA-HAM and MUC-FRA on LH.

But then on united.com, it is $1985. I tried this two ways. One without a fare class but using GPUs and the other with W,V fare class. Same result.

Even an H fare on Expert Flyer is less expensive:

HHW36RCE UA H Round-Trip 1712.00(USD)
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Old Feb 15, 16, 5:21 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by euslaner View Post
findark,

OK, I understand, so I looked at the link and went to Expert Flyer and got a quote for a W fare IAD-FRA r/t (no HAM, no MUC). And here is what I got:

WHW47NCE UA W Round-Trip 1312.00(USD)

Looks good. I can book FRA-HAM and MUC-FRA on LH.

But then on united.com, it is $1985. I tried this two ways. One without a fare class but using GPUs and the other with W,V fare class. Same result.

Even an H fare on Expert Flyer is less expensive:

HHW36RCE UA H Round-Trip 1712.00(USD)
You're forgetting about YQ - sneaky little thing:

Code:
WAS UA FRA 656.00WHW47NCE UA WAS 656.00WHW47NCE NUC 1312.00 END ROE 1.00 XT 5.50YC 7.00XY 3.96XA 35.60US 5.60AY 10.30DE 46.90OY 37.90RA 516.00YQ 4.50XF IAD4.50
Total is $1,985.26, which matches UA website.

Also note that using these W fares to stop over in Europe is a $500 surcharge per stopover.
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Old Feb 16, 16, 8:10 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
You're forgetting about YQ - sneaky little thing:

Code:
WAS UA FRA 656.00WHW47NCE UA WAS 656.00WHW47NCE NUC 1312.00 END ROE 1.00 XT 5.50YC 7.00XY 3.96XA 35.60US 5.60AY 10.30DE 46.90OY 37.90RA 516.00YQ 4.50XF IAD4.50
Total is $1,985.26, which matches UA website.

Also note that using these W fares to stop over in Europe is a $500 surcharge per stopover.
Never heard of this surcharge. But what I last tried to do was to book a r/t IAD-FRA. That isn't a stopover. I thought that I could go back from either FRA or MUC without any charge. If I can book IAD-FRA r/t I could then book FRA-HAM and then MUC-FRA separately on LH. So how do I find the W fares on a r/t IAD-FRA at the Expert Flyer price?
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Old Feb 16, 16, 8:20 am
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For international trips it is always a good idea to at least look at the roundtrip option.
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Old Feb 16, 16, 12:29 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by euslaner View Post
Never heard of this surcharge. But what I last tried to do was to book a r/t IAD-FRA. That isn't a stopover. I thought that I could go back from either FRA or MUC without any charge. If I can book IAD-FRA r/t I could then book FRA-HAM and then MUC-FRA separately on LH. So how do I find the W fares on a r/t IAD-FRA at the Expert Flyer price?
Sorry, I think I was unclear - I was referring to two different surcharges.

The "international surcharge" or "fuel surcharge" (coded as YQ in a fare construction) is a carrier-imposed surcharge which is often a significant amount added to the base fare. For all purposes here, you might as well consider it as part of the base fare. United considers it to be PQD earning, so you will receive PQD and RDM as if it were part of the fare. It is extremely difficult to construct an overwater ticket without getting YQ assessed, and at this level it's fair to say it's impossible. You will never be able to book that W fare for less than the $1,985 amount.

Separately, if you wanted to use that fare to stop over in Europe, it's an additional $500 per stopover. This would be if you booked IAD-FRA-HAM/MUC-IAD on one ticket. This number is specifically named in the fare rules for that fare. You can do IAD-FRA/MUC-IAD as a simple round-trip. Booking internal segments on a separate LH ticket is generally okay, but technically against the rules, so try not to make a habit of it or draw attention to the fact.
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Old Feb 16, 16, 5:01 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Sorry, I think I was unclear - I was referring to two different surcharges.

The "international surcharge" or "fuel surcharge" (coded as YQ in a fare construction) is a carrier-imposed surcharge which is often a significant amount added to the base fare. For all purposes here, you might as well consider it as part of the base fare. United considers it to be PQD earning, so you will receive PQD and RDM as if it were part of the fare. It is extremely difficult to construct an overwater ticket without getting YQ assessed, and at this level it's fair to say it's impossible. You will never be able to book that W fare for less than the $1,985 amount.

Separately, if you wanted to use that fare to stop over in Europe, it's an additional $500 per stopover. This would be if you booked IAD-FRA-HAM/MUC-IAD on one ticket. This number is specifically named in the fare rules for that fare. You can do IAD-FRA/MUC-IAD as a simple round-trip. Booking internal segments on a separate LH ticket is generally okay, but technically against the rules, so try not to make a habit of it or draw attention to the fact.
But that wasn't the case. When I entered IAD-FRA-HAM-MUC-IAD the fare was about $15 more than the IAD-FRA-IAD. And there is nothing wrong with booking flights within an itinerary, Last year I booked IAD-FRA-IAD r/t but was flying FRA-IST-KYA (Konya)-IST-FRA as well on TK. If I did IAD-FRA-IST-KYA-isT-FRA-IAD on one ticket it would have been over $4K. I flew the two itineraries for less than half of that fare.

How do I know that it was legal? A 1K agent booked both itineraries for me on the same call--and even booked the TK on a 016 ticket so I could get full EQMs (I did). And when the IAD-FRA outbound was 3 hours late causing me to miss both TK flights, an agent on the 1K desk rebooked me that night to IST and the next day to KYA and found me a hotel in IST. So if this was against the rules, several agents broke them big time. On the way home from FRA-IST I politely asked the TK ageng if an upgrade was possible. I was told that this only happens for TK elites, but when I got to the gate, they changed my BP to C (which was good since my FRA-IAD upgrade didn't clear).
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Old Mar 23, 16, 2:04 pm
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Ok, new route here: Why has SFO-IAH pricing gone up so much? It used to be that for a 3 night midweek trip you could get a non-stop coach ticket for around $500. Now it is $1300 if you depart on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Drops to $381 for a Saturday departure.

Is this simply a case of the traffic flying on OPM and UA [ahem] "messes" with the business travelers? With much of IAH traffic being oil related and the oil business being in a long slump and focus shifting to travel spend, is UA actively trying to push long-term UA flyers to switch to Southwest and fly to HOU instead? Or is there some trick in the fare rules that I haven't figured out?

Last edited by jtet; Mar 24, 16 at 12:18 pm Reason: Added detail about pricing being for coach, not first class.
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Old Mar 23, 16, 3:32 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by jtet View Post
Is this simply a case of the traffic flying on OPM and UA [ahem] "messes" with the business travelers? With much of IAH traffic being oil related and the oil business being in a long slump and focus shifting to travel spend, is UA actively trying to push long-term UA flyers to switch to Southwest and fly to HOU instead? Or is there some trick in the fare rules that I haven't figured out?
SFO-IAH for whatever reason seems to be a popular dumping ground for a lack of reasonable fares. Definitely targeted at OPM - cheapest OW fare is an E fare (your $1,300 RT) whereas any RT fare requires at least a Sunday departure or Friday night.
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Old Mar 23, 16, 3:51 pm
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Originally Posted by jtet View Post
Ok, new route here: Why has SFO-IAH pricing gone up so much? It used to be that for a 3 night midweek trip you could get a non-stop for around $500. Now it is $1300 if you depart on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Drops to $381 for a Saturday departure.

Is this simply a case of the traffic flying on OPM and UA [ahem] "messes" with the business travelers? With much of IAH traffic being oil related and the oil business being in a long slump and focus shifting to travel spend, is UA actively trying to push long-term UA flyers to switch to Southwest and fly to HOU instead? Or is there some trick in the fare rules that I haven't figured out?
$1100-1500 for IAH-SFO/EWR/IAD is pretty normal without a 3NS or SNS much of the time, typically by not publishing any fares below U or E. Sometimes UA will feel competitive and go lower, but I haven't found any real pattern to it.
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Old Mar 23, 16, 4:37 pm
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Three months ago I was in a situation where I needed to travel ORD-MRY-SAN-ORD, and my fiancée (who generally flies DL - yes it will be a mixed marriage!) was joining me but starting in MSP. I priced a plethora of different alternatives, including the idea of having her fly on DL except for the SFO-MRY-SFO legs on UA.

My total roundtrip ticket, ORD-SFO-MRY / MRY-SFO-SAN / SAN-ORD, ended up costing $530.

However, buying her the exact same SFO-MRY-SFO legs in isolation, on the same day, would have cost $589!

To make it more amusing, after the allocation of total PQDs for the ticket to segments, I received a whopping total of $20 PQD for my SFO-MRY-SFO segments :-)
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