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United's HUB non-stop pricing extremely high

United's HUB non-stop pricing extremely high

Old Jan 24, 18, 7:59 am
  #1  
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United's HUB non-stop pricing extremely high

I understand the UA pricing algorithms....let me re-phrase that: I understand that no one understands the UA pricing algorithms, but this is getting rather absurd!

It pays to be creative in searching for flights with UA when HUB bound. Let me explain: my home airport is EWR, although I have a two hour drive to the airport.

Was looking for my usual EWR-PEK RT flight. For March. UA's non-stop J fare is: $5446 (P fare). Yet, doing AVP-EWR-PEK RT drops it to less than 50% of that: $2604 (P fare for EWR-PEK).

These days I also search all the small airports in driving distance, and apparently this can save considerably on cost, albeit somewhat inconvenient at times.
Taking a car or bus to other airports to get to UA's hub on a RJ145 or train can save thousands.

I know, I know, nothing new to most here, but I am finding this is getting more and more extreme recently. Or, maybe, I am just getting more and more cheap - who knows?

In this case it really works out well, as I live closer to AVP than EWR. Not complaining....well, except the 5 hour layover at EWR!
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:10 am
  #2  
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This is completely typical and has been ongoing for a long time.

Airfare is not priced on a cost plus basis; demand is considered, and varies considerably between podunk nowhere and a major US metro. Airlines are great at using cities, days of week, advance purchase, etc for price discrimination.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:13 am
  #3  
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It's a courtesy discount for people who have to live in AVP.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by TA View Post
It's a courtesy discount for people who have to live in AVP.
Haha, good point!

Originally Posted by mduell View Post
This is completely typical and has been ongoing for a long time.

Airfare is not priced on a cost plus basis; demand is considered, and varies considerably between podunk nowhere and a major US metro. Airlines are great at using cities, days of week, advance purchase, etc for price discrimination.
Aye, understood. For some reason UA seems to have set business pricing EWR-PEK RT non-stop at $5200 - $5600 for the WHOLE year, regardless of day-of-week, duration and/or advance purchase.
I guess they haven't discounted ANYTHING....yet.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 9:10 am
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but on the West coast it is the exact opposite, unless you do not think LAX is a hub. I am looking at SAN-SGN-SAN and it is $1K more expensive than LAX-SGN-LAX. For the price differential I can get a limo return from SAN to LAX and have spending money for duty free.

My trip to Australia in December I purchased a OW SAN-LAX for $107 to connect to my flight as cheaper than an uber.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 9:18 am
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And in the Midwest it is the exact opposite. Today I purchased a ticket ORD-PEK-ORD for mid-March for $3000 in Polaris Business. If it was Small City-ORD-PEK-ORD-Small City they wanted $6500. And I tell you, Small City-ORD is a puddle jump that sometimes is 18 minutes wheels up-wheels down.

For sure, I did not make the same mistake I did for my trip to PVG that I took in January where I ended up buying an Economy seat from Small City because I forgot to check about departure from ORD. Lesson learned!

PS: with the price differential my wife is joining me on this trip

PS2: she would have joined me anyways as her favorite activity is travel. But Economy + is less fun than Polaris Business.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 9:34 am
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In addition to the ordinary xHUB pricing, EWR is NYC and NYC is a major financial capital with lots of paid premium travel to China. Nobody on Wall Street is driving to AVP to schlep back to EWR.

Bottom line is that UA must believe that its model works. If people will pay $5,200 for UA Polaris, why charge less?
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Old Jan 24, 18, 9:37 am
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Yesterday's earning's call mentioned a change in software for revenue management. The recent threads about huge increases in cost might be a reflection of that.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by COSPILOT View Post
Yesterday's earning's call mentioned a change in software for revenue management. The recent threads about huge increases in cost might be a reflection of that.
Agree, I am going LAX-SEA for a wedding in late May and most fares are under $200 on mainline . For a UX flight United is trying to get $400
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by COSPILOT View Post
Yesterday's earning's call mentioned a change in software for revenue management. The recent threads about huge increases in cost might be a reflection of that.
UA could pull off a software change that quickly? And without any problems? I think some of us are doubtful, unless they meant that they'd been doing this for a while
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:14 am
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Looks like that AVP fare is good through end of April (no similar fare after that):

PLX0ZBM4 UA P Round-Trip 2084.00(USD) B 01/23/18 04/30/18 -- / 12M
PFX87UMD UA P Round-Trip 4950.00(USD) B 07 / 12M 28
ZFX47UMD UA Z Round-Trip 5750.00(USD) B 07 / 12M 14

But as you noticed, if you originate in EWR, no such luck:
PFX8QEM4 UA P Round-Trip 4940.00(USD) B 01/01/18 12/31/18 SU / 12M 28
PFX73EM4 UA P Round-Trip 5240.00(USD) B 01/01/18 12/31/18 03 / 12M 07
ZFX43EM4 UA Z Round-Trip 5740.00(USD) B 01/01/18 12/31/18 03 / 12M 14

If P space fills up and you need to book into Z, then the prices are basically the same.

(note above fares do not include the surcharge)
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Last edited by bost; Jan 24, 18 at 10:20 am Reason: Formatting
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:17 am
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Thank You for this post.
I also use EWR when returning to NY, though I fly Delta and ST. Sure enough, a one way ticket to SGN from EWR costs $1300, AYP-DTW-ICN-SGN costs half that.

I also fly from LAX to SGN and LAX is usually the cheapest gateway.
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Last edited by wxman22; Jan 24, 18 at 10:18 am Reason: additionally
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:28 am
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This is a common pricing practice for (almost) all airlines, and I kind of like it since it offers me some options with *very* low cost.
In Jan 2017 I need to fly from PIT/PEK (biz) return. AA prices PIT-ORD-PEK for ~$2800 but YYZ-ORD-PEK for ~$1700.
Sure enough I flew PIT-YYZ for ~$100 and then did YYZ-ORD-PEK, to save $1k.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:36 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle View Post
but on the West coast it is the exact opposite, unless you do not think LAX is a hub. I am looking at SAN-SGN-SAN and it is $1K more expensive than LAX-SGN-LAX. For the price differential I can get a limo return from SAN to LAX and have spending money for duty free.

My trip to Australia in December I purchased a OW SAN-LAX for $107 to connect to my flight as cheaper than an uber.
LAX is definitely not a hub from a pricing perspective

I think my favorite long-lived absurdity was that NZ PE to AKL is something like three times as expensive ex-SFO and ex-LAX; the split-ticket connection saves literally thousands. Looks like now NZ has given entirely over to the fantasy world of people paying $4k for PE.
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Old Jan 24, 18, 10:43 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
In addition to the ordinary xHUB pricing, EWR is NYC and NYC is a major financial capital with lots of paid premium travel to China. Nobody on Wall Street is driving to AVP to schlep back to EWR.

Bottom line is that UA must believe that its model works. If people will pay $5,200 for UA Polaris, why charge less?

(bolding mine)
They believe that only this year then, as fares throughout 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 ranged from $2500 to $6500 for P fares depending on criteria mentioned by mduell in post #2. This year (so far) it's all in the $5400 ( $200) range for the whole year.
(And it's not only AVP either; this has been a reoccurring theme recently. ZFV (Philly Amtrak Station), and BDL (Hartford) are others that come to mind.)


Originally Posted by COSPILOT View Post
Yesterday's earning's call mentioned a change in software for revenue management. The recent threads about huge increases in cost might be a reflection of that.
THAT could definitely explain it. There's definitely SOMETHING that changed.

Last edited by narvik; Jan 24, 18 at 10:53 am Reason: spelling
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