Sunday, February 1, 2009

Airfare Madness

International airfare just don't make sense. I was checking out how much it costs to travel to Jeju Island in Korea. It's one of the few places (that you want to go) which does not require a visa for PRC passport holders. Anyway, for a hypothetical week-long trip from 3/1 to 3/8, here are some roundtrip airfare as found on Vayama.
LAX (Los Angeles)-NRT (Tokyo)-LAX = $535 + $291 taxes/fees (Singapore Airlines)

LAX-YVR (Vancouver)-HKG (Hong Kong)-YVR-LAX = $543 + $156 taxes/fees (Air Canada)

JFK (New York)-NRT-SIN (Singapore)-NRT-JFK = $620 + $508 taxes/fees (Japan Airlines)

HKG-ICN (Seoul Incheon)-CJU (Jeju Island)-GMP (Seoul Gimpo)-HKG = $1050 + $62 taxes/fees (Korean Airlines/Asiana Airlines)

HKG-TPE (Taipei)-HKG = $434 + $59 taxes/fees (Cathay Pacific)

CTU (Chengdu)-CAN (Guangzhou)-BKK (Bangkok)-CAN-CTU = $471 + $134 taxes/fees (China Southern)

CTU-PVG (Shanghai)-CJU-PVG-CTU = $1149 + $233 taxes/fees (China Eastern)

How can it cost ~$1382 to fly from Chengdu to Jeju Island (3h 40m total) yet only $1128 to go from New York to Singapore (~21 hours)? Is there just too much competition on trans-Pacific routes?

Another crazy example. If I wanted to fly from Chengdu to Seoul (one-way), I have two options:
Chengdu to Shanghai to Seoul = $618 + $124 taxes/fees (China Eastern)

Chengdu to Beijing to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Seoul = $857 + $240 taxes/fees (Air China/American AIrlines)

I spend a little more, rack up lots of miles, and I get to visit Los Angeles along the way. Of course, I probably won't be able to get a visa for the US. Maybe they just want everyone to take the train in Asia.


Hmm, I just looked up my itinerary for my LAX-CTU trip on Vayama. The price online is ~$25 cheaper than what I purchased from Cathay Pacific directly. What's more weird is that the fare is higher ($892 vs. $861) but the taxes are much lower ($169 vs. $225). Is it because there are Hong Kong sales taxes when buying tickets from Cathay Pacific directly?


Nevermind. I just checked Cathay Pacific's website and they dropped the taxes/fees down to $157. I guess I need to email them to find out why my tickets cost more. They probably dropped the fuel surcharge right after I bought my tickets.

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