Most business travelers prefer direct flights, because they are faster. (Let's assume it costs £20 in salaries/hour... spending 2 hours in an airport between connecting flights and an hour longer flight time adds up to £60, one way.) And, from experience, traveling is tiring; hanging around in an airport even more so than flying. So, a quick direct flight gets you in a better shape at your destination. And lastly, the dominant carrier at a hub can ask higher prices, because they have most mileage card owners... and they get them because they offer the best selection of flights.
danielson - without wishing to detract from the people who've already posted an answer, you mention that you're leaving the UK on Easter Saturday. While I expect Germany likes to take time off around Easter similiarly to the UK, are German school holidays on substantially the same dates as the UK ? (German school holidays are much more regional than the UK, but Easter is observed on largely the same date everywhere in Germany). Is the date of your return perhaps a day when UK schools are still on holiday but German schools have resumed ?
danielson81, one way of looking at this is to reverse the question: Why are direct flights more expensive?
The answer is inevitably - because that's what the market will bear! Of course, it's neccessary for carriers to get as much cash as they can per seat per sector and this is what also works for the indirects. Lufty know how many pax they regularly carry from LHR to FRA and (separate bookings) from FRA to NRT. So if they have spare capacity on both sectors? Make a discount that may not make them much profit but will be better than two empty seats. Then, they hope, you will like the service and use them for similar journeys in the futures.
Lastly, as you often see referred in here, it's proximity to LHR. In this country we are not big enough to have two major international hubs (wait for the Gatwick Groupies to read that slur!) so for many it's easier to go from their local field (MAN/EDI/etc) to AMS/FRA/CDG or even via the Gulf hubs. Folks that live near Norwich hop across to AMS very easily and, if through ticketed, then it can be good deal.
I make significant savings (Business Class) using my resident country's national carrier from an adjacent country's airport (1 hr drive away) - via their hub - than flying directly from their main national hub (2 hours drive away). Despite having to fly 2 legs iso 1 the total elapsed travel time is actually shorter.
In the late 90s I lived in belgium for 3 years. It was much cheaper for us to fly Bru-Lhr-anywhere than it was for our mates in the UK to go Lhr-anywhere. We were also offered many more upgrades than our mates based in lhr, and whilst I've never accepted a bribe, I cheerfully accepted upgrades to Concorde!! (PS - where do I get silver Concorde pen refills???- No shop in London has ones that fit)
Some guys - with time to spare, so it must have been sales and marketing - went lhr-bru-lhr-anywhere, and back again as it was cheaper for them. We bought their bru-lhr-anywhere tkts, they bought an open lhr-bru return.
There was also a deal to have a number of "open" tickets floating around. I never understood it, but the CEOs secretary did, and she ran that part of the system. If she said it was much cheaper to do it her way, it usually was.
There was also a deal to have a number of "open" tickets floating around.
You get a better fare if you have a weekend in your return ticket. For people that regularly spend a few days in the same city it is cheaper to buy a HOME-OUT-HOME ticket over two weeks plus an OUT-HOME-OUT ticket over the weekend instead of two HOME-OUT-HOME tickets for both working weeks.
Passenger Load Factor. Another way to look at this is as a scheduling problem. Its easier to fly people into and out of a hub, have them switch flights and proceed to their final destinations than it is to optimize the direct point to point planning problem.
Given the business class demand for shorter (time-wise) direct flights, I'd expect to see airlines try to fill in the empty seats on these flights by offering lower economy class prices until the plane is full. I've seen that happen on occasion, but my evidence is purely anecdotal
My first guess is that the price leader on this route is one of the Gulf carriers or maybe Turkish. (OK, maybe there's a junk carrier which is cheaper ...)
Lufthansa, and AF/KL and others, will be tracking the fares of all their competitors. When they find the lead low fare, it's up to them to decide whether to match/beat it or not. Bear in mind that their head office will be on the back of their UK sales manager 'why aren't you meeting your targets?' and he'll be replying 'because Emirates are stealing our lunch - we have to match them or give up the business'.
I work for a company who are extremely cost sensitive regardless of how high up in the company one is, and they usually insist on employees using the cheapest fare, within reason. Almost invariably this means using indirect flights via a European hub (I live in London).
Usually the list of flights on offer shows plenty of seat available on direct flights but at much more expensive fares than the indirect flights via the European or M.E. hubs. Apart from the personal inconvenience, I find this particularly galling considering the extra fuel I will burn getting to the destination (why have just one take off and landing when you can have two?) and the resulting increased emissions.
Surely if the aviation industry and Governments are serious about cutting emissions, the one single thing they could do to dramatically improve the situation is to render it illegal to operate such fuel extravagant fare structures and encourage people to fly direct to their destinations . Or am I missing something?
The average fuel burn per km for a particular aircraft type starts (at extremely short distances) extremely high, then falls sharply as distance increases, flattening out at what is that aircraft's optimum sector length. Thereafter it increases slowly - the aircraft is burning fuel in order to carry the fuel it needs for the longer sectors.
So for a flight from, say, London to Singapore, the fuel burn per km is greater than for a flight from London to Dubai, or from Dubai to Singapore. So assuming that Dubai is more or less on the great circle between London and Singapore, you could end up burning less fuel on two legs than on one.
Apart from that ... 'render it illegal' - how? who? under what jurisdiction?
Good point DeepDene and welcome aboard our 'cabin'.
My guess is that the carriers, if faced with such a ruling will use (in any order):
Lobbying - both above and below board (i.e. old friends)
"If we cannot fill our a/c with these indirect tickets, we will lose business and cut jobs.
So you will lose tax revenue from both sides.
"There will be nothing to stop people buying two separate tickets" Except, as discussed, the problems of insurance and connections - but that will not stop people buying two tickets to save money.
It sounds like your company is one of those that concentrates on visible costs (ticket price) and forgets the invisible costs. First and formost is staff time and then how tired they are and the loss of ability. Also, this pushes the cost back on to the staff and their families. They could make a PR point about using directs and saving fuel and time and gain a lot of good will from their staff that have to travel. But the accountants don't like that. And, do the accountants and MD/CEO also have to fly indirect?
I have told here before the story of a client refusing to pay for me to go Biz to HKG. So I went, LHR-SFO for a day's business for the client and then one day off before going SFO-HKG arriving in the evening. That's 21 hrs all in coach and two thirds the way around the world, across the date line. I staggered into the client the next morning to be told they had saved another day by bringing the important presentations forward. I was the senior consultant who had to judge these presentations for the contract and I was falling asleep! Stupid, stupid, stupid. But it looked good on paper.
Singapore will now only offer a hour plus tech stop at MUNICH when doing SIN to & from MAN. Great pity when the flight used to be direct non stop on bith 74 &777.
No info at all made available to pax when checking in & once on board the a/a either, I still put SIN at the top of my list, but they have lost a bit of shine of late.
Here's then way it was explained to me by an airline marketing chappess. Say you want to fly live near Manchester to and you wish to fly to Milan. You start your search on the internet. It won't take long before before you find that a) Manchester could mean Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool as well as Manchester itself and b) Milan could mean Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo etc. Do you want a flexible ticket? Do you want to fight the other bastards for a seat in the boarding scrum? Do you want cabin crew comprised of poor East European girls with dreadful T's & C's ("who've overdosed on Sunny Delight..." throwing baked beans at you) or would you like a little (relative) comfort? Now you find that there are direct flights and some that are not. Oh yes please - I'll have the direct flight! But Jeez, what a price!
So to compete with some of the direct flights, those offering in-direct flights will use price as one of their marketing tools. Invariably, these will be the larger traditional airlines so you'll be routing via LHR/CDG/FRA/AMS. When you look at the ticket price, you may well find that that you'll be paying less to do your two flights than someone flying direct from the transfer hub you pass through.
Word of warning though - you MUST fly your ticket in the order of sectors as purchased. You have to do the first and last sectors. Yes, it's totally bonkers and no I can't justify it. But that's the system.
I have found that the "you have to do last sectors" rule is a soft one. If you phone the airline politely (a few days in advance) "travel plans have changed, can I reroute the return leg?", the airline will happily cancel, without reimbursing anything. Don't do that on every trip though.
When I was a kid and and had to fly somewhere with my family, my sister and I always thought it was a lot more fun if we had to change planes somewhere - somehow it seemed a lot more exotic.
Does that consumer sector still exist these days ? I'm thinking as to how much kid pester power is worth to High St retailers (e.g. the toy section in department stores), and wondering if airlines could play on that theme as well !