Posted in Humor - General, Miscellaneous

The Airfare Anagram

“A real life game in which players from different
US airlines publish randomly picked airfares for domestic routes”

This is in fact my definition of the thus newly coined phrase “Airfare Anagram”.

The US airlines domestic airfare publishing men have something in common – Eccentricity! Or they like gambling. To me buying a domestic air ticket is like going to a casino. You know you got to open your wallet and spend some money. You just don’t know how much. There are some places where you can name your price (as in bid for your airfare). If the eccentric men think that your bid is ok, then you win the game.

I am not sure if everyone has had some experience while you were flying to find out (and fidget) that the guy sitting next to you was the lame one who ended up paying twice as much as you did for the exact same trip or worse if you were the sucker who paid four times as much the snoring guy did. Either way it is better than finding out that the grim guy sitting in Row 1 had paid only half as much as you did for the same trip and still got to enjoy the exclusive airline meal which offered him some cheap Napa valley wine to wash down the brownies and hash browns, while you were sitting in Row 22 (couldn’t be 23 as there was none) trying hard to open the small pack of pretzels just to make sure your mouth didn’t become sugar dry with that single can of Pepsi you would end up drinking the entire trip.

The so called experts who claim to have knowledge on how the fare wars are waged, advice you to plan your travel at least 60 days in advance. To me the practical reality is that more than 75% of the time, I cannot plan my travel 60 days in advance. Lot of times, I don’t even know that I have to make a particular trip 60 days in advance.

Normally when we decide that a particular trip has to be made, we start our rather assiduous process of shopping for tickets in a very systematic way. The only way we can complete this process successfully (satisfaction is not a necessary outcome) is if “We Exhibit Crazy Petrol At Eviti Door”! If you are wondering what this means, you can wait till the end to find out how deranged one could become shopping for airline tickets. Nevertheless, we have always found out that a systematic approach to this unpredictable war doesn’t help.

“I asked you to book the tickets yesterday. Look at the fares now. They have gone up (again)”, my wife would scream at the other end of the phone, associating this with many other procrastinating efforts on my part in getting things done.

“If we arrive at 11:00 AM instead of 05:00 PM, would that make much of a difference?”

“Of course yes. I would have to take the day off. I can’t afford to do that (again)!”

“There is a difference of almost $145.00 in fares if we take the earlier flight out”

“Well. It was not the case when I asked you to book the tickets yesterday. You always postpone things..”


I always end up not having enough evidence to support my case (to my wife) of the airfare war and how you can be lucky at times to gain something out of it. In a capitalist economy, of which I comprehend none but I allege to disapprove the fundamentals, I guess the supply & demand equation is the main blood line. But when it comes to airlines, the traditional airlines, if I have to differentiate them from the discount airlines have a need to do justice to their crazy cost structure and hence they jumble around with airfares, thus making the “blood line” not so critical. Apparently, they realize that there are different types of air travelers and that they have different needs when it comes to air travel. So the constant change in fares in some way is driven by their cost structure, their competitors’ cost structures and most importantly the traveler types.

I didn’t know that the airlines revise their airfares three times a day. Mon-Fri 12:30 PM, 5 PM and 8 PM. On Saturdays at 5 PM and on Sundays at 3 PM. But as far as I know there is no way you can predict how the fares are going to change during these periodic revisions. That depends entirely on how eccentric these guys can get. Over the past few years, since internet booking became the norm, I have been trying hard to play this game. There has never been a method to the fare madness. There has never been a rhyme or a reason. There has never been any kind of predictability associated with these fares.

If I am a passenger who is desperate to get to my destination on a given date, then the airlines think I would be ready to pay a higher fare compared to a bargain traveler who is going to travel only if the fares are within his budget as he has all the time under the sun to choose his date of travel. Hence there are multiple factors that these eccentric men have to take into account to make their cost systems work.

Well, to me, an ordinary passenger trying to buy a ticket from Point A to Point B, it will never make sense why I have to shop for best airfares!

Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity – The top four online gam(bl)ing sites where I place my bets. Go figure!


Besides fantasizing about being a Peter Gibbons at least for a couple of days at my work, I think I have a long way to go to realize some of the other fantasies. But like any ambitious man out there, I will get there! Note: All views expressed in this blog are mine alone and have got nothing to do with my company Cogent IBS, Inc., its employees or any of its affiliates.

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