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Caribbean-No Demand, but Fares have Doubled?

Caribbean-No Demand, but Fares have Doubled?

Old Apr 28, 20, 5:21 am
  #1  
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Caribbean-No Demand, but Fares have Doubled?

Hi All,

I have family and business obligations in the Dominican Republic and have flown EWR-POP 10-12 times/year for the past 15 years.
When the DR government closed their borders on March 19th, United cancelled all service there. Initially for March, then they extended the suspension of service to April, and now all of May.

They kept a full (7x/wk) schedule for June. And the fares were the same for every day of the month. Yesterday morning RT was $368 in Basic Economy and $402 in regular economy (lowest)
But yesterday afternoon, the RT fares for the entire month of June jumped to $546 for BE and $866 for regular economy (lowest)!

And it doesn’t appear to be because of high demand. All of the seat maps I checked (737-800/900) show <10 seats filled (and the middle seats do not appear to be blocked).

I don’t know what UA is thinking with this pricing? Jetblue flies a comparable route (JFK-POP) and their prices have always been similar to UA’s. I just checked and JB has NOT matched UA’s price increase. They are still showing $368 RT in Blue Basic (equivalent to BE) and $424 for their regular “Blue” economy.

Crazy!
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Old Apr 28, 20, 5:59 am
  #2  
 
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Suggest you relax as it's likely a temporary glitch. They did some fare filing updates from EWR to Caribbean (it's not just POP) yesterday and they are clearly missing main cabin fare filings for T, S, W, and V fares (there are only BE fares without the normal main cabin fares which had been running $20 more each way on this route). Since they are missing, you have to go up to a Q fare to get main cabin. Probably not intentional and more than likely due to being seriously overwhelmed right now.

Here's AUA


And MBJ

And POP
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Old Apr 28, 20, 6:02 am
  #3  
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Or it could be that UA has figured out that the only people travelling/buying tickets now are people who have to fly, and are thus price insensitive. It's not like they're going to motivate lots of people to fly there on cheap fares when they can't enter the country or have a proper vacation.
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Old Apr 28, 20, 6:04 am
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Originally Posted by ErikStratton View Post
Hi All,

I have family and business obligations in the Dominican Republic and have flown EWR-POP 10-12 times/year for the past 15 years.
When the DR government closed their borders on March 19th, United cancelled all service there. Initially for March, then they extended the suspension of service to April, and now all of May.

They kept a full (7x/wk) schedule for June. And the fares were the same for every day of the month. Yesterday morning RT was $368 in Basic Economy and $402 in regular economy (lowest)
But yesterday afternoon, the RT fares for the entire month of June jumped to $546 for BE and $866 for regular economy (lowest)!

And it doesn’t appear to be because of high demand. All of the seat maps I checked (737-800/900) show <10 seats filled (and the middle seats do not appear to be blocked).
We have had this discussion in other threads



I don’t know what UA is thinking with this pricing? Jetblue flies a comparable route (JFK-POP) and their prices have always been similar to UA’s. I just checked and JB has NOT matched UA’s price increase. They are still showing $368 RT in Blue Basic (equivalent to BE) and $424 for their regular “Blue” economy.

Crazy!
Basically, the only people who are getting on a plane these days are the ones who must travel and put up with the entry restrictions placed on them by countries. There is no "leisure" travel so to speak.

Therefore, there is no elasticity in pricing. UA has to fly the route, so it can charge any fare it wants to because if you have to get there, you are going to pay the bill, and if it is too high and you balk, then in UA's mind, you didn't have to get there.

And no matter what UA charges you, they are going to lose a bucket full of money on the flight, because 5 of you at $800 a ticket does not match 140 lost passengers at $400 a ticket.
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Old Apr 28, 20, 7:05 am
  #5  
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Either UA made a mistake, or given this is apparently being seen across the Caribbean, likely a deliberate decision to price this way because they think they can get it - likely because they know demand is still going to be low, and so they are trying to extract max profit they can from the seats they do sell. They know most people traveling even in June are going to do so because of need, rather than want, so can price higher.

Also not sure the June schedule is fully set yet, and not even clear yet, AFAIK, whether the DR will even allow travel by June. UA might have no choice but to cancel flights. Flight decisions are being made on a daily basis (if not hourly).

if you need (that word being subjective, and being dependent on the government even allowing it) to travel to POP at that time, you have choices - buy B6 for the lower fare they are offering, buy UA (or another carrier) for the price they are offering, or wait if you think pricing will change in your favor. Know that no matter which option you choose, there is a good chance that flights may be canceled, govt restrictions still in effect, etc., and so be prepared for changes.
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Old Apr 28, 20, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Or it could be that UA has figured out that the only people travelling/buying tickets now are people who have to fly, and are thus price insensitive. It's not like they're going to motivate lots of people to fly there on cheap fares when they can't enter the country or have a proper vacation.
Originally Posted by radonc1 View Post
Basically, the only people who are getting on a plane these days are the ones who must travel and put up with the entry restrictions placed on them by countries. There is no "leisure" travel so to speak.

Therefore, there is no elasticity in pricing. UA has to fly the route, so it can charge any fare it wants to because if you have to get there, you are going to pay the bill, and if it is too high and you balk, then in UA's mind, you didn't have to get there.

And no matter what UA charges you, they are going to lose a bucket full of money on the flight, because 5 of you at $800 a ticket does not match 140 lost passengers at $400 a ticket.

Yes, I understand and appreciate your insights. That was my first thought also.

But I’d really prefer that Xliioper’s suggestion that a temporary “glitch” is the cause is correct. 😁
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Old Apr 28, 20, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Or it could be that UA has figured out that the only people travelling/buying tickets now are people who have to fly, and are thus price insensitive. It's not like they're going to motivate lots of people to fly there on cheap fares when they can't enter the country or have a proper vacation.
This. The only people flying right now are those that have to. They’re being charged a fare that keeps the route viable.
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Old Apr 28, 20, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
This. The only people flying right now are those that have to. They’re being charged a fare that keeps the route viable.
There's no such thing as a viable route right now.
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Old Apr 28, 20, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
...They’re being charged a fare that keeps the route viable.
I'm not sure "viable" is the correct term. "Less unprofitable" is probably more applicable.
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Old Apr 29, 20, 11:51 pm
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
I'm not sure "viable" is the correct term. "Less unprofitable" is probably more applicable.
Viable and profitable are not synonyms.
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Old Apr 30, 20, 1:36 am
  #11  
Ari
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
Viable and profitable are not synonyms.
There were a lot of passengers on my EWR-ORD flight today . . . but I think like half were wearing UA badges. Sigh.
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Old Apr 30, 20, 5:32 am
  #12  
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There are some crazy fares right now. BOS-SFO-BOS. January .... only full J fares filed. P/Z available but it only sells $6k full J fares. Yikes. Sure, there is JPM in-between, but flights are empty (who buys full J ???). So what UA is doing here is unclear to me.
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Old Apr 30, 20, 6:38 am
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Combo of factors:

1. It takes time for pricing and inventory algorithms to catch up with the drastic shifts in capacity and schedule. Much of the work will have to be manually/semi-automated.

2. In the near term, UA is also likely trying to (gently) discourage travel to leisure heavy markets in part to keep the peace with labor. The AFA, in particular, has been very vocal about its proposal for UA airlines to stop serving leisure markets altogether for the time being given the minimal upside relative to the health risks to crews.
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Old Apr 30, 20, 6:59 am
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Originally Posted by ErikStratton View Post
Yes, I understand and appreciate your insights. That was my first thought also.

But I’d really prefer that Xliioper’s suggestion that a temporary “glitch” is the cause is correct. 😁
fair enough. Preference aside, it’s likely not the case.

what is the fare today? If it hasn’t moved much, for sure not a glitch - they fix pricing errors fairly quickly. Would be almost unheard of for it to take days.
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Old Apr 30, 20, 7:11 am
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I’ve been monitoring BOS-SFO for July (in case travel opens up by then). It’s been ~$1200 roundtrip for business for the past month or so, and two days ago popped to full J $6K. It has stayed there since.
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