I got an email yesterday from a reader that wanted to go from Jacksonville to Mexico (GDL) Guadalajara this summer and was having problems with pricing. It seemed like a good opportunity to help someone learn how to “fish”
You do remember the old saying; if you give someone a fish they eat for a day, but if you teach them to fish, they eat for a lifetime”
An international ticket may not be the best example as international tickets are not always bi directional (meaning the fare and terms are the same no matter which of the two cities you start at), but it was the challenge facing us.
With end to end ticketing you get to think outside the box a little bit. If a certain city pair is too expensive, why not fly from your starting city to an intermediate city that has a reasonable price to both your city and your destinations city? You will end up buying two tickets. I did not complete the project with the reader yesterday but here is what I learned. In the summer time to fly from JAX to GDL the typical ticket price is $537. I hate spending $500+ on anything, so my motivation is high to find a workaround.
I went to the farecompare/flyertalk web page and plugged in my destination city GDL pretending it was my starting city and ran a search by price to US cities. A few of my results were interesting and maybe helpful. GDL to PHX Phoenix was $95 round trip, MCO or Orlando was $240 round trip and Charlotte was also a bargain, but my Internet connection is down and I won’t be able to tell you the number until I get to Java Joes this morning to send the blog post.
So here is my thinking after reading these results. I know JAX to PHX is cheap as they are both Southwest Airlines cities. Orlando is not that far a drive from Jacksonville and if I’m saving $300+, I can drive a few hours. The same holds true for Charlotte, but that is a much longer commute, and the savings had better be substantial, or there is a large group traveling and the cumulative savings will be significant. Five of us drove from Savannah to Atlanta this year to fly to Hawaii as the savings was well over $300 each.
So let us assume that PHX to GD is truly $95 and JAX to PHX is $250 for a total of $345 as opposed to $540+, not a bad savings using end to end ticketing.
Two areas of caution.
1. Don’t make it a habit of using end to end ticketing using the same airline for both tickets. Airlines frown on you outsmarting their pricing model and can, and will charge you the full fare between your real starting point and real destination if they catch you. So buy JAX to PHX on Southwest and PHX to GDL on Mexicana.
2. If you miss your second flight for any reason, ie the Mexicana flight from PHX to GDL you are in tough shape. Mexicana really doesn’t care that your SW flight was delayed due to weather or mechanical issues. You are then at their mercy to get you to your final destination. SOLUTION- leave plenty of time between carriers in the intermediate city to allow for delays and to schlep your carry on bag to the far terminal as you know, when changing airlines, they are seldom in the same terminal. But for $200, I can drag my bag a half mile or so.
The End results were inconclusive as the reader did not respond to the end to end ticketing option, but I have saved hundreds using this technique.