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Why so much more expensive?

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redsturgeon
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Why so much more expensive?

#332668

Postby redsturgeon » August 12th, 2020, 1:17 pm

My son is looking to travel to college in the US soon. His college is about 300 miles from Chicago, the city has an airport and regular flights from O'Hare

A return flight to this destination is about £1500. A return flight from LHR to Chicago is £700 and from Chicago to his destination is about £200.

Why does it cost so much more to book as one ticket rather than two?

John

dspp
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Re: Why so much more expensive?

#332677

Postby dspp » August 12th, 2020, 1:36 pm

redsturgeon wrote:My son is looking to travel to college in the US soon. His college is about 300 miles from Chicago, the city has an airport and regular flights from O'Hare

A return flight to this destination is about £1500. A return flight from LHR to Chicago is £700 and from Chicago to his destination is about £200.

Why does it cost so much more to book as one ticket rather than two?

John


I am guessing you haven't experienced the frequent missed connections at O'Hare. That introduces quite a lot of risk to the carriers. Hotels, and expensive last-minute flights (especially if the carriers are not in the same alliance).

regards, dspp

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Re: Why so much more expensive?

#332684

Postby Lootman » August 12th, 2020, 2:13 pm

dspp wrote:
redsturgeon wrote:My son is looking to travel to college in the US soon. His college is about 300 miles from Chicago, the city has an airport and regular flights from O'Hare

A return flight to this destination is about £1500. A return flight from LHR to Chicago is £700 and from Chicago to his destination is about £200.

Why does it cost so much more to book as one ticket rather than two?

I am guessing you haven't experienced the frequent missed connections at O'Hare. That introduces quite a lot of risk to the carriers. Hotels, and expensive last-minute flights (especially if the carriers are not in the same alliance).

That could be a part of it. He'd have to clear customs and immigration at ORD and in normal times that could add an hour, or two.

I have another theory as well, especially if the ultimate destination is not a large city. In that case there may only be a couple of airlines with non-stops between there and ORD.

Typically in the US, if the discount airline SouthWest (SWA) flies between a city pair then fares are a lot lower than if they don't. Let's say the two airlines on this domestic route are SWA and American (AA). AA can't charge more than $200 because that is what SWA charges. But if you are flying LHR-ORD on American then the SWA fare isn't an issue. SWA do not partner with any other airline so your flight will have to be on AA. So AA charges $500 instead.

The solution of course is two separate tickets but then you have to allow a lot more time at ORD because if he misses his flight out of ORD then AA won't take care of him.

I have also had the opposite issue. A couple of years ago I was going to Charlotte, NC (CLT) and it was cheaper to fly via Nashville (SNA). So I flew LHR-CLT-SNA-CLT and saved hundreds over LHR-CLT. Air fares can often make no sense at all.

redsturgeon
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Re: Why so much more expensive?

#332709

Postby redsturgeon » August 12th, 2020, 4:11 pm

He's not in a hurry and it looks like there is a flight every two hours or so during the day so I may get him a flexible ticket for the domestic flight or would it even be worth getting him to buy one at O'Hare?

John

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Re: Why so much more expensive?

#332724

Postby Lootman » August 12th, 2020, 5:13 pm

redsturgeon wrote:He's not in a hurry and it looks like there is a flight every two hours or so during the day so I may get him a flexible ticket for the domestic flight or would it even be worth getting him to buy one at O'Hare?

A couple of times I have had US immigration ask me for evidence of my onward travel, e.g. connecting flight or hotel details, either on paper or on a phone. It's one way they try and catch people out. So there is some utility for having an onward ticket or reservation and being able to prove it.

If the domestic ticket you buy is fully flexible then he could always get a refund at ORD if there are standby tickets available. I was probably your son's age the last time I flew standby but people still do it.

Some more on why ORD is such a pig to transit through:

1) Size. It's huge. There are 9 runways and if you are unlucky and land at an outer one then you are looking at a 20-30 minute taxi time to the Gate.

2) Weather delays. Chicago gets a lot of weather.

3) You arrive at the international terminal but will leave from a domestic terminal. Most likely he will be on American or United as they dominate there and each has their own (huge) terminal. Think of it like getting from LHR T4 to LHR T1/2/3. Except:

4) There is no sterile zone at any US airport that i know of, therefore no air-side transfers from the international terminal (there is one to the International terminal when going the other way). So not only does he have to go through immigration and customs, but then he has to get a bus to the domestic terminals and then go through TSA security.

Last time I connected through ORD, on my way to Omaha, I stayed overnight at an airport hotel. There is one you can walk to from the terminals and the rest are a matter of a free shuttle bus ride.

redsturgeon
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Re: Why so much more expensive?

#332728

Postby redsturgeon » August 12th, 2020, 5:26 pm

Thanks Lootman, very useful info.

Looking at the flights he will probably fly Lufthansa and I will buy a fully flexible onward ticket on a domestic flight for him. I will warn him of the size and complexity of the airport.

John


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