The great fares rip-off?
Ever noticed how cheap it is to get to Dubai – and how expensive it can be to get away? Kipp investigates the forces at work behind Emirates’ fares to and from Dubai.
September 2, 2010 4:00 by Katherine Azmeh
Sometimes, the fares out of Dubai are so expensive, it’s cheaper for an expat to buy round trip tickets from home to get to Dubai, and then just pay the fee to switch the return leg later on. This is a trick used by one of the Kipp staffers – the next trip back to Europe for a week will begin with the second part of a return ticket. The flight back to Dubai after seven days is the first part of the next return ticket, with the second portion booked for some arbitrary future date. Kipp’s writer will pay the admin fee to move the flight when they know the date of their next trip home.
Just for comparison, we took a look at the way another airline prices fares out of its hub, versus fares from other airports. British Airway’s one-way fares departing Heathrow (its home base) are a mixed bag when compared with the airline’s return fares from the European and US airports it serves.
For example, the one-way from Heathrow to Rome on BA is more expensive than the return ($291 versus $183), but fares to Paris and Frankfurt are comparable on each leg of the trip. The one-way departing Heathrow to Paris or Frankfurt will set you back just over $90; the return fares are $97 and $82, respectively.
But BA does offer a bit of a break when leaving Heathrow and headed to the US. One-way flights to New York and Houston are priced 5-10 percent cheaper than their returns from JFK and Houston International airports.
In other words, departing BA’s Heathrow stomping ground does not guarantee a better or worse fare, unlike the case with Emirates and Dubai where you seem guaranteed a higher price. In essence, it can be a bit cheaper, a bit pricier, or roughly the same to return to London from abroad with BA – a reflection of the normal competitive constraints on airlines, airports, and all the auxiliary services involved in air travel.
So, is Emirates mark-up madness or genius? Kipp asked representatives at Emirates air. A spokesperson said: “Like every commercially-oriented business, Emirates regularly reviews its fares to reflect market dynamics including, seasonality and demand. Emirates prices its tickets competitively in all markets we serve. We remain committed to providing our customers with excellent service and a strong value-for-money proposition.”