Comments: 1011 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

BossingtonDC264 karma

Did the airlines you priced for even generate lift?

nzdissident105 karma


RNovaglia109 karma

Is it cheaper to buy a ticket months in advance or wait for the last minute? (Assuming you actually manage to get it)

Edit: From protox88: I've written an extensive article over at /r/travel and can be found on the sidebar: Guide to airfare search engines. Come check it out over at /r/travel. I cover various topics and add more as others ask questions. Check it out

nzdissident165 karma

Generally, months in advance. About five months from departure we get an idea of how flights are filling, so we might launch a promotion for sales (say) 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure, which is lower than the 'default' lowest fare. Unless you can buy standby tickets, tickets bought late will almost certainly be the most expensive bought for that flight.

alandel2001100 karma

Does the old "clear your cookies" trick work for online booking? Also, know any tricks for getting cheap flights from Australia (either domestic or international)?

nzdissident156 karma

Not sure for all airlines, but if you want a flight to your destination, try local versions of the airline's website. For example, qantas.co.nz may have special fares promoted to New Zealand-based customers that are sometimes lower than those on qantas.com .

CXgamer87 karma

Don't we always fly to our destination?

nzdissident3 karma

Sorry I meant to your home base.

Joniels98 karma

How many % (or seats) are usually "overbooked" on a regular flight?

nzdissident146 karma

About 5% on average...

None if denying boarding would seriously inconvenience passengers (e.g. the last flight of the day between two cities.

deeksterino99 karma

Why is being bumped to a later flight in the same day not considered a serious inconvenience?

(Not hating on you, just the mind-set behind that policy.)

nzdissident123 karma

Depends on the passenger. The compensation payment delights many passengers who don't have to be at their destination that very hour.

dukeofsklarbro10 karma

You need to look up the definition of serious. From there end they fly 1000's of passengers a day, if a couple people get shifted around its statistically low and I am asumeing thier definiton of serious incovinece would be you not being in the right city at the end of the day, not a couple of hours late. Shit happens and air transportation is complex. For a better explanition see http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=aba_1332656862&comments=1

nzdissident67 karma

Yes and if they didn't overbook flights, many many more flights would take off with empty seats!

TL;DR: Overbooking increases the number of passengers flown.

Willzay85 karma

Do think instead of charging for overweight luggage, airlines should have a overall weight limit for the luggage and the passenger?

It doesn't seam fair that I (10 stones) would have pay extra for a few extra kgs of luggage alittle over the limit when an obese (30 stones) passenger with luggage overall weighs 3 times more than me and my luggage.

Have airlines considered an overall weigh per passenger limit?

I imagine they'd receives a lot of complaints from the voluptuous crowd hah. Thanks for your time.

nzdissident587 karma

I'll let you manage the public relations for that one.

MandMcounter50 karma

Why did they start charging more for aisle seats (though I have a feeling the answer will be "because they can")? Also, how can they let people reserve emergency exit aisle seats online before they actually see people in the flesh?

nzdissident75 karma

Because they can.

Seat reservations don't mean bunk if you're unsuitable for the seat.

Willmuzik46 karma

Is it true that flights are cheaper when they depart on Tues-Thurs than other days?

nzdissident78 karma

On average, yes. In my experience, here are the days of the week from most to least expensive:

1) Friday 2) Thursday 3) Monday 4) Sunday 5) Wednesday 6) Saturday 7) Tuesday

Zoniao43 karma

i have a feeling this guy works for dohop

nzdissident52 karma

I have a feeling that many of you are asking the same type of question, i.e. how can I get the cheapest fare from X to Y?

coolideg91 karma

What else would people ask? What do you find the most interesting about your job that we haven't thought to ask?

nzdissident71 karma

If you get upgraded, you are not special, you were just transferred to a partially full business cabin to make room for more economy passengers.

ramstoria41 karma

I am a big fan of kayak.com and Southwest Airlines. What can I do to get even cheaper flights?

nzdissident65 karma

Probably nothing.

tragic-waste-of-skin34 karma

Full disclosure. Is this ama a plug for dohop?

nzdissident32 karma

No, that just happens to be my favourite fare finder.

negishidan23 karma


nzdissident35 karma

1) Probably, but the seat selection will mean bunk if there are complications near departure.

2) Nothing if your fare is fully refundable. If it's not, the airline keeps your money and sells you another ticket at the going rate if you want to catch a later flight.

japasca21 karma

Regarding Business/First tickets, do you work from a different model when pricing compared to economy tickets? How would i get the best business/first rates?

nzdissident17 karma

It's a similar model. Same strategy to get best economy fares.

forwardtinker18 karma

It seems to me that upstart airlines, I'm thinking of VirginAmerica have no fucking idea what to price flights at and seem to be a boon to consumers, eg virgin seems to be blowing up everyone's pricing models are routes like lax-phl and others

Does it seem to you like virgin knows what they're doing going after routes and doing capacity modeling to get at what's profitable?

nzdissident39 karma

Virgin's a 'vanity airline' in many ways, in that it is an extension of the ego of Sir Richard Branson, so isn't so concerned about being profitable. Remember that there are so many other businesses in the Virgin group, and the airline provides advertising for those other Virgin businesses. Just like India's Kingfisher Airlines is a flying billboard for Kingfisher Beer.

_Born_To_Be_Mild_23 karma

And yet they still made £50,000,000 profit, about $75,000,000.


nzdissident78 karma

Which considering they have total assets of £1.4billion, is a return on assets of about less than 5% ...


axafato18 karma


nzdissident39 karma

You will find this 'random' policy on any airline... imagine there's a big event in Valencia (e.g. a football match) a month from now... it's likely flights at that time are fuller (and therefore more expensive) than flights departing sooner because of the spike in demand caused by football fans. It's very difficult to simply add extra aircraft for these times because they must return or fly somewhere else almost empty.

Generally, months in advance. About five months from departure we get an idea of how flights are filling, so we might launch a promotion for sales (say) 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure, which is lower than the 'default' lowest fare. Unless you can buy standby tickets, tickets bought late will almost certainly be the most expensive bought for that flight.

When you want to fly has much more effect on fares than how long in advance you book.

peanut_Bond15 karma

Many low cost airlines charge for luggage. Is this just a money grabbing technique or does me carrying on a suitcase actually cost the airline more?

nzdissident27 karma

It would cost marginally more in terms of baggage handling and makes the plane heavier, so a bit more fuel too.

dibyo11 karma

What are you 3 favourite pricing insights about airline tickets that the ordinary joe won't know.=?

nzdissident27 karma

1) Travel on a Tuesday. 2) When you want to travel affects prices much more than when you book. 3) If you get upgraded, you are not special, you were just transferred to a partially full business cabin to make room for more economy passengers.

youflavio9 karma

Is there like a pricing algorithm that you can share with the public? How many variables does it incorporate and what are the most important ones?

nzdissident20 karma

Algorithm extremely complex, the software is an industry in itself. A hell of a lot of guesswork too!

Variables incorporated by the software include:

1) Origin & Destination
2) Day of week 3) Time of day

Other variables that require guesswork/intervention:

4) Other airlines' pricing 5) Flight connections 6) Holidays 7) Events

SumOfChemicals2 karma

Would you say items requiring intervention make up the majority of your time then? How many analysts would one airline employ, and do they have specialized roles?

nzdissident3 karma

Good question! Yes. Generally you start off with small aircraft at the edges of the network, then move up to larger aircraft with multiple cabins/more flight connections.

Our medium-sized international airline had about 20 revenue management analysts... Divided into Domestic, Short Haul International and Long Haul International teams.

Intervention makes up the majority of the time, like hiking prices in preparation for big events/holidays that the software can't do.

edwinthedutchman9 karma

Prices of tickets change depending on how long before the flight date, right? (I.e. a ticket for apr 1st will cost something different today than if i booked, say, on mar 1st).

If so, what is the optimal time to book?

nzdissident7 karma

About five months from departure we get an idea of how flights are filling, so we might launch a promotion for sales (say) 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure, which is lower than the 'default' lowest fare.

lolmancgn6 karma

My professor (renowned german airline industry scientist) told me, that the airline industry, over the span of its whole existence, has created a net loss for airlines. How do you see this? What's the main reason if that's a correct statement?

nzdissident10 karma

Correct statement. Airlines, like newspapers and football teams, are 'vanity businesses' i.e. it is cool to own them in and of themselves regardless of whether they are profitable. Plus, many national carriers are government-owned/subsidised.

ruinevil6 karma

Do you charge Mac users more?

nzdissident11 karma

I wish I could.

goddammitbutters5 karma

How much does a let's say 200 mile trip on a 100-seat airplane cost an airline? And what is the range for ticket prices, I mean the cheapest and most expensive ticket they sell?

Why do they sell them at so extremely different prices anyway?

nzdissident4 karma

Don't know, but a 2200km one-way cost my airline about US$15000 for an 146-seat A320 and about US$40000 for a 392-seat 747.

A seat for that trip could be bought for as little as US$100 or as much as US$800.

Because if they chose an 'average' fare some flights would be full months from departure and some would be almost empty. Maximises revenue and passengers flown!

general_lilis5 karma

How does the privatization of an airport can affect your prices? Saying they can charge some services always keeping the amount under the Consumer Price Index and can only exceed the rates and charges if they get 65% of the airlines approval. Could the airlines benefit from that? Would yours agree?

nzdissident7 karma

It doesn't (at least as far as my job was concerned). The flight schedule is loaded into the system almost a year in advance, my job was to maximise the revenue. I wouldn't consciously 'charge more' knowing that a flight cost more to land at some places. I would charge whatever I thought would maximise the revenue.

Cielo115 karma

I dont know if you know the answer to this. Ive always wondered how many seats a airline has to fill to be profitable and also how much (percentage) is your average long haul flight filled of its capacity.

nzdissident7 karma

As many seats as makes the total revenue equal the total cost. Remember ticket prices vary wildly, so no such thing as a 'break-even' load factor per se.

About 80% full...

effalump4 karma


nzdissident11 karma

1) Tuesday and Saturday. 2) In my part of the world, May: a) Summer is over, but no snow to ski on b) No public or school holidays c) No big sporting events d) Not cold enough for people to want to escape bad weather

wiler50024 karma

What's the first discount you'll give to an angry customer?

nzdissident5 karma

Didn't deal directly with customers. Can you imagine if there was a hotline to the 'pricing guy'? :)

tootie3 karma

Are there differences in booking trips to places that are big business destinations like New York versus strictly tourist destinations like Orlando?

nzdissident3 karma

Yes. Bidness places cost more, and folks tend to book later.

orost3 karma

Why are tickets for some flights so extremely cheap? I'm talking like 3 or 5 euro per seat cheap. (Ryanair)

If the flight is so unpopular why is it even flying?

nzdissident15 karma

Only some of the seats on the most unpopular flights are that much. Most of the seats cost much more.

Remember that the flight may have been very profitable on its way to where you take off from.

Jeffrey_McPooper2 karma

I'm planning a trip from MHT or BOS to Bangkok for four weeks at the end of May to end of June. It will be me, my wife and 16month old. We're thinking we'll buy a seat for him. Any cost saving or practical tips? This will be our first travel experience with a toddler.

nzdissident129 karma

Cost saving: Leave the kid at home, it won't remember the trip anyway. You'll enjoy the trip more, and everyone else on board will be able to sleep.

icyliquid4 karma


nzdissident9 karma

That was intentional.

yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee1 karma

Aside from purchasing a Tuesday/Thursday flight, what is the best possible way to go about purchasing the fairest priced tickets on international flights?

Would you suggest using a 3rd party such as hotwire, kayak, priceline; a CC rewards amex, capital one, etc or directly from the airline?

nzdissident12 karma

Day of week matters much less for international flights than for domestic.

If people want me to stop mentioning www.dohop.com , please stop asking questions with that as the answer.

JustForCancer1 karma

I routinely fly between the U.S. and Malawi. Is there anything a travel agent can do that I can't do myself? How do I know when is the right time to purchase the tickets?

nzdissident7 karma

Travel agents will almost certainly know less than you about travelling. They only thing they can do is bribe analysts into making cheap seats available. One of my colleagues used to receive bottles of whisky on a regular basis. I used to wonder how much money the airline had squandered whenever that happened.

_SAPsap_1 karma

What do you think of Azuon? http://azuon.com/

All my friends use that one. Can you give us a comprehensive list of websites for cheap flight searches and what the good and bad things about them are?

Is Tuesday/Wednesday during the night really the best time to buy tickets?

nzdissident1 karma

Never heard of it.


Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly, day of week of booking does not matter.