It’s time for another episode of Ask Cranky. I’ve received this question in many different forms ever since my days doing airline pricing, so I thought now would be a good time to answer it.

Why is it cheaper for me to fly from Fairbanks, Alaska to Denver than it is to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle? What happens if we just don’t get back on the plane after the layover in Seattle?


There’s nothing worse than trying to figure out airline pricing. After 3 years on the inside, I understand it, but it still makes my head hurt. This question, however, about why two flights cost more than one or why longer flights cost more than shorter ones is pretty easy. It’s actually just economics – supply and demand.

Back in the days of regulation (prior to 1978), pricing was pretty straightforward. There was effectively a price per mile. While that may make sense from a cost perspective (sort of), it doesn’t make much sense from a revenue perspective. So after deregulation, the airlines really started to try to maximize revenue. Crazy idea, I know. Let’s look at these two market to illustrate my point.

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  • Cranky Flier

    My name is Brett, and I’m an airline dork. I’ve had the bug since I was young. As a kid, I never missed a chance to go to LAX a…

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