It might seem strange -- if you didn't know better -- that you
can get on an airplane in many cities in this country and pay less
than if you boarded during a stop en route to your final
Fly from Cincinnati to Los Angeles for $841, for example, on the
same Delta plane that originates in Dayton, Ohio, where you pay
But why anyone would fly from Cincinnati in the first place is a
mystery when one can drive to Dayton for a United flight via
Chicago that costs $342 one way, coach. That's almost $500 in
savings for the inconvenience of driving 60 miles.
United's Dayton-Los Angeles flight stops in Chicago before going
on to Los Angeles. If you should be so unfortunate as to board at
O'Hare, you pay a one-way coach fare of $937.
Chicago residents can avoid this fare by (a) driving to
Milwaukee and flying to Los Angeles for $701 (one way, coach) or
flying on United's economical discount fare to Kansas City for
$100, then buying another one-way special walk-up fare, subject to
availability, from Kansas City to Los Angeles for $272 (total
It still is permissible to combine local point-to-point fares.
American the other day revised its Rule 150 to bar the practice but
quickly withdrew the filing when agents complained after receiving
an alert from Minneapolis-based Airfare Report.
To go back to Chicago from Los Angeles, you might think the
savvy traveler would buy the $342 Dayton fare and get off in
Chicago, but the airlines' point-beyond rules prevent this.
In many instances, you wonder why travelers don't buy roundtrip
excursion fares that are more than 50% cheaper and throw away the
return portions, but that, too, is barred, under back-to-back
The airlines on most of these routes are trying to compete with
-- keep traffic from -- low-cost carriers.
The government cannot tinker with individual fares. It simply
could rule that a passenger is not required to use all segments of
a ticket, be it back-to-back or point-beyond, and that a passenger
can combine point-to-point fares.
That might force airlines to reconsider of some of their
anomalies while giving the little guys a chance.