Would you buy a “custom” airline ticket?

Should your airline be allowed to offer you a customized ticket?

That’s the intriguing and somewhat thorny question being raised by the worldwide airline industry through a little-known proposal called Resolution 787 — not to be confused with Boeing’s troubled 787 aircraft.

And it hopes that the answer is “yes.”

The airline industry, represented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), wants to establish a new standard for selling airline seats, called the New Distribution Capability (NDC).

Resolution 787 would, among other things, allow an airline to collect personal information such as your address, birthday and frequent-flier information and offer you a special or custom fare based on what it knows about you.

Airlines see Resolution 787 as a necessary evolution of their airfares. But consumer advocates warn that such a system might be used to extract more money from passengers and limit their ability to find the best airline ticket by comparison-shopping. For its part, the Department of Transportation, which is being asked to approve the resolution, is staying mum on custom fares.

As far as the airline industry is concerned, fears that it would exploit the customization option are overblown. Resolution 787 simply sets new, much-needed standards that would allow travelers to see more options when they book an airline ticket, according to IATA.

“Consumers who buy directly from airline Web sites have access to more options to customize their travel than those who buy through travel agents,” says Perry Flint, an IATA spokesman. “The NDC will close this gap.”

Critics claim that it will do more than just add new functionality to a few Web sites. They say that it makes comparison-shopping almost impossible, especially if airlines don’t release fare information to third parties such as online travel agents, who could offer the ability to compare airfares.

“With NDC, we will have moved from a world where fares were transparent and consumers anonymous to a world where consumers are transparent and fares are anonymous,” says Kevin Mitchell, one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed standards. Mitchell runs the Business Travel Coalition, which represents the interests of corporate travelers.

Based on his review of previous industry association meetings on the subject, Mitchell believes that airline carriers implementing the new standards would probably not file fares and schedules for passengers to use to comparison-shop. “Consumers would no longer see all the options in a market, but rather only those fares the carriers would want them to see,” he says.

IATA’s Flint disputes that claim. “In an NDC environment, air travelers will be able to compare and contrast the full value of the airline’s offer, not just the base fare,” he says.

The airline industry, which first proposed the standards in October, has asked the Transportation Department to approve the new fare system. A DOT spokesman confirmed that the agency has received an application from the IATA but declined to say whether it might greenlight the NDC or whether it has any authority to do so.

If you find all this confusing, you’re hardly alone.

After I showed David Valade, an information systems manager from Melrose, Mass., the text of the IATA resolution, he said, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what this really means.” Not that it matters. Today’s airfares don’t make any sense either, “nor are they fair,” he added.

That’s an assessment other travelers agree with.

“I can’t imagine how anyone would be willing to accept a personalized airfare,” says Nora Graves, a computer programmer based in Purcellville, a Virginia town in one of the most affluent counties in the United States. “I can picture the scenario now: Log in with your account that provides name and address. Look at the Zip code. Oh, look! She lives in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States! Hike those fares by 50 percent!”

Her fears are echoed by David Miller, president of Imperial Travel Consultants in Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec. Miller’s travel agency caters to a number of corporate travelers who fly business class when they’re working, “but when they travel for personal reasons, they insist on the cheapest fares available in economy,” he says. He’s afraid that if Resolution 787 becomes a reality, these high-flyers will be punished for their erratic spending patterns, because the customization will offer them only a more expensive fare.

But not everyone thinks that these changes will be bad for air travelers. When I asked Erin Contour, a systems engineer from San Diego, for her reaction to Resolution 787, she said that she wouldn’t object to personalization as long as she could compare one airfare with another — in other words, that she could see what one airline was offering, as well as all the “extras” she wants to include in the ticket, and compare it with a competitor’s fare.

“I like paying only for what I want,” she says. “I have more of a problem with airline customer service and the general process of flying than I do with the pricing.”

The way you buy an airline ticket won’t change for the foreseeable future. Resolution 787 isn’t expected to be partially implemented until 2015 at the earliest, assuming that the DOT signs off on the new standards and that pilot programs and software developments go well. And that’s by no means a certainty.

Between now and then, there will be plenty of opportunities for air travelers, travel agents and consumer advocates to raise more objections to custom airfares and ask regulators and lawmakers to ensure that Resolution 787 doesn’t have the same difficult launch as the aircraft with which it shares a name.

Would you buy a "custom" airline ticket?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Would I buy a custom ticket. No idea. Until I know exactly what that means I couldn’t possibly give a meaningful answer. Right now all I have is idle speculation.

  • Citizentraveller

    If this idea is promoted by the worldwide airline industry, it is certain to benefit carriers at the expense of passengers.

    Should the airlines get away with ‘custom pricing’ there are many other sellers throughout the economy that would like to try the same. We know that some bricks and mortar multistore retailers charge different prices depending on the locality, but their prices are nonetheless openly displayed. Any attempt by airlines or other sellers to reduce transparency in pricing must be treated with suspicion.

  • Grant Ritchie

    With a tip of the hat to President Reagan… “We’re from the airlines and we’re here to help.”

  • mbods

    Most people are concerned about pricing, unlike Ms. Contour. I don’t see resolution 787 being customer friendly at all. Sounds like another gimmick to bilk their customers. Got to hand it to the airline industry, they’re mighty creative when it comes to lining their pockets, aren’t they? Personally, we drive wherever we need to go, vacation closer to home…

  • TonyA_says

    It’s like McDonalds and Buger King pricing the lettuce, onions, tomato, mustard, ketchup, and mayo separately and differently depending on who you are.

  • MarkKelling

    As long as I can still see the un customized fares and am free to choose whichever one I want, I don’t care.

    Remember the complaints we have seen from people who believe the airline web sites already will progressively show higher priced tickets the more times you search for the same thing? The airlines deny that happens, but this sounds like they are wanting the ability to legally do exactly that by spinning it as “customization.” Don’t the airlines already have most of that information indicated on file if you are a regular customer?

  • EdB

    Why can’t they just put a fixed price on the seat and leave it at that. Doesn’t matter if you buy it 6 months in advance or a walk-up fare. Yeah. I’m sure there will be people pointing out “benefits” to the variable prices, but as a traveler, it just gives me a headache.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I got that part. What is unknown is the criteria by which the selection is made. I will admit a certain level of skepticism.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I was very skeptical about that until recently. I was making a reservation at the intercontinental. The rate was $130. But I decided to sign up for the loyalty program. The rate jumped to $160. No matter what I did the $130 rate would not come back. Finally, I signed out. The $130 rate reappeared. I booked it as a guest then signed in at checkout.

    My concern would be that much like my disappearing rate, airlines would make it impossible, or nearly impossible, to find the noncustomized rate.

  • TonyA_says

    You’ll never know. That’s the whole idea. Those services can pe priced without the transparency required today for base fares in GDS. Worse is the amount of personal data that may be transmitted between parties to price these services. What happens to privacy?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I share your frustration, but no perishable product is priced that way. Consider something as simple as food. At the farmers market the merchants marks down the perishable items 15-30 min before the market closes. Same items, same quality, same vendor, different prices.

    The pricing actually works for me. I have the flexibility to travel during off-times. On my preferred routes, the price almost always decreases during the last two weeks. I just got a 45% savings that way.

  • $16635417

    I’ve seen that before as well. I’ve also seen the least expensive rate disappear when I put in the AAA code, seeing only the AAA rate and higher rates. Should someone not as savvy, they may have just booked the AAA rate, assuming it was the best rate.

    I simply didn’t tick the AAA box and booked the lower rate, taking care to verify the cancel polices were acceptable.

  • $16635417

    I first encountered a form of this about 25 years ago. A friend at work brought in something he received in the mail for a discount off airfare. I called to use it and was denied because I was told the zip code on my frequent flyer account did not match the list that this promotion was targeted for.

  • Miami510

    Story: my first part-time job while in college was in a very nice men’s haberdashery. Just the use of that word (haberdashery) should tell you how long ago that was. I
    was showing some ties to a customer when he frowned and looked as if he was
    unhappy with all that I offered.

    At that point, the owner came over and greeted the customer using the customer’s title “Judge,” He held one of the ties up to the Judge’s shirt and said, “Judge, this is a fine tie befitting a man of your position.” The Judge bought two ties.

    Later the owner told me, he knew the Judge and that he could
    afford the ties and that the other customer in the store, an acquaintance of
    the Judge was a partner of one of the most prestigious law firms in the
    city. It was all about knowing one’s customers and using that information to persuade, coerce, bully, conn, (you choose the word) the sale.

    I don’t mind my doctor, lawyer, or investment advisor knowing all about me, because their advice is predicated on knowing that information… but an airline, whose only interest is in selling me a travel ticket doesn’t need that to help me… only to help themselves.

    If I’m forced to hand over such information, I’ll fabricate some of it to my advantage in dealing with the airline. I’ll tell them I’m an aggressive lawyer, specializing in tort work…. or perhaps a consumer advocate with an audience of hundreds of thousands of readers. Then they’ll think twice about fooling with me…. Wow :)

  • EdB

    But unlike the farm’s market example, the price goes up as the window closes. I know people refer to the seats as perishable products and can see their point. I just don’t agree with that argument.

    Also, with the farmer’s market, it is not necessarily the same quality at the end of the day as it is when they opened in the morning. A day in the sun and heat doesn’t keep those types of perishables at the same quality. But that airline seat stays the same if you buy it early or late.

    But I do understand what you are saying.

  • Cam

    Depends on the price……..

  • $16635417

    Supermarkets and other retailers already do this with their loyalty programs. I receive offers “tailored for me” to redeem at my next “visit”. I could also choose to pay cash and not show my loyalty card, in order to try and remain anonymous, and pay the sticker price.

  • KarlaKatz

    And, more likely, as if McD’s and BK offered someone “fresher” ingredients, depending on what they were willing to pay (or, from the consumer’s personal profile, what they could afford).

  • KarlaKatz

    … couldn’t be more succinct. Absolutely!

  • KarlaKatz

    According to recent news reports, privacy is irrelevant nowadays.

  • Darksideblues42

    I would rather see it handled like some grocery stores handle special pricing.

    The one-time shopper gets a price of $4.99 for 2 12-packs of cola, but the frequent shopper with the store’s loyalty card checks in when they arrive and may see a special deal for those same 2 12 packs AND a choice of a bag of ice for or a bag of chips for the same $4.99 or both offers for $5.49….that would make more sense to me.

    You sign in to the Airline’s website, and they know that you normally check one bag, purchase one snack box AND if the price is less than $50, you book an Economy Plus seat….so maybe they wave the snack box fee for 2 flights if you book the Economy Plus seat at the time of purchase and give you 2 drink coupons if you pay the checked bag fee up front….

  • PsyGuy

    I would totally buy a custom ticket, as long as it was the cheapest ticket available, and by using information I can lie about to make that price it won’t be long before someone at flier talk figures out the right profile to get the cheapest available seat.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    What a nightmare this would be, if approved, for a consumer advocate! Can you imagine the mess if someone bought a ticket, using a combination of cash, points and “customization”, didn’t end up getting the flight/seat/perks that they purchased, and wanted credit for denial of those items? We see that all the time now in stories on this blog.

    There’s a local supermarket that only allows you to purchase items on sale if you have their loyalty card. No loyalty card? Very high off-the-shelf price. I don’t shop there. On the other hand, there’s a pharmacy I go to (part of a national/international chain) that has the same requirement to have a loyalty card on hand if you want the sale price. No loyalty card? Regular price, and the regular price is already pretty good. I shop there.

    Now, which model do you think the airlines are going to choose?

  • ploughmud

    hmm…sounds like too much of our personal info available to even more people than we have to live with now. No privacy at all coming soon.

  • John Keahey

    I’d like to read a specific scenario showing how this would work, rather than just general outlines of the program. But maybe it’s confusing enough that such a scenario cannot be crafted. What additional options does the the industry say will be added? Until I know this, I can’t vote in the poll.

  • LFH0

    History repeats itself. Prior to 1887, some railroads might have had nominally-uniform published tariffs which were applied to transportation purchased by those without power or leverage. But businesses with power or leverage could bargain with carriers to get lower rates, rebates, or otherwise obtain benefits not available to the masses. This concept of rate discrimination was thought of by many as being unfair, since, for the same transportation, some people paid more and others paid less. This was one of the reasons Congress enacted the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, such act requiring the uniform application of published tariffs.

    What’s going on with the new proposal is, at its heart, a repudiation of the Interstate Commerce Act. Yes, the Act had its problems, especially in that government-regulated rates stifled competition and innovation, thereby unnecessarily raising the costs to consumers. And that particular problem was addressed by a series of transportation deregulation acts (starting with aviation in 1978) which allowed carriers to set their rates in a competitive environment. But is there really any problem that exists today which would be “solved” by allowing rate discrimination? The only thing I can think of as a “problem” is the ability of carriers to maximize their profits . . . which was really the same motivation which existed prior to 1887 and which was deemed contrary to the public interest with the passage of the Act. Is there any other reason for allowing rate discrimination today?

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana.

  • MarkKelling

    Yes, but in the case of the grocery offers, they are always for a lower price than the shelf tag shows. They give you savings on these things knowing that if they get you into the store, you will probably buy other things too and they make more money off of you. I don’t see that happening with airlines. I believe they will most likely hide the better prices from you and show you what they want you to buy. Since I never check luggage, never buy drinks or food on the plane, and only sit in the better seats in economy if I don’t have to pay extra for them, I don’t think the program will be able to “customize” too much for me. :-)

  • MarkKelling

    Isn’t the airline business model already bypassing these restrictions?

    You are a diamond-studded-platinum-plated-multi-million-miler with your airline. You buy the $100 fare and then you get to sit in 1st class seats at no extra charge where everyone else has to pay 10X what you did to sit there, you get free alcohol which everyone else pays extra for, you get free baggage which everyone else pays extra for. How is this not in violation of the Interstate Commerce Act? Yet every airline does it every day and no one has made any move to stop it.

  • frostysnowman

    The airlines should not need such personal information to offer me “custom fares” that are sure to benefit mostly them. It stands to reason that if the idea is being pushed by the airlines, it’s meant to help their bottom line, not mine. I say this type of “custom” pricing is a bad idea.

  • MarkKelling

    The AAA rate used to be great, and sometimes it still is. But if you have status with many hotel chains, their member prices can often be lower. With the hotel chains I use, the AAA rate these days mainly gives a better cancellation window than the member prices at a few dollars more per night. If my plans are iffy, I will usually still book the AAA rate knowing I can cancel up to arrival time on the day I plan on getting there. Otherwise, I go for the lowest price offered that still has a decent cancellation policy (i.e. NOT the prepaid nonrefundable option!).

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s understandable for a promotion or special. Disneyland does that for southern cal residents all the time.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    What’s the difference ???

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Forget airlines, every hotel, car rental agency, and innumerable business all give discounts to preferred customers.

    The answer I suspect is that it only applied to certain industries under certain circumstances.

    But is that necessarily a bad thing. I pay $19 to ship FedEx. My buddy pays $5.00, but his company spends millions with FedEx monthly. I don’t.

  • LFH0

    Yes, I agree that the frequent flyer programs constitute a rebate, which is a form of rate discrimination. I think Mr. Elliott would agree as well, and probably is opposed to such programs, at least in part, for this reason.

    The Interstate Commerce Act regulated rail and motor carriers–separate legislation covered aviation–and most of the Act has since been repealed (generally by the modal deregulation acts, and the remaining portions by the ICC Termination Act of 1995). But here it is not so much the details of what legislation remains intact, which modes are covered, etc., so much as it is the public policy principles underlying the Act. We rejected the principle that rates should be government-regulated because it stifled competition and innovation against the public interest. But should we also reject the principle of uniformly-applied tariffs?

    I cannot opine intelligently on the current status and extent of air carriers being obligated to apply tariffs uniformly. But do I think frequent flyer programs violate that principle, regardless if there presently exists enforceable legislation.

  • $16635417

    In this case, when I put in the AAA rate, the cheaper publicly available rate did not show, yet the more expensive ones did. Taking out the AAA option opened up a publicly available rate cheaper than AAA yet with the same cancel policy for the same room type.

    An since hotels give elite guests cheaper rates, would that be OK for an airline to do?

  • LFH0

    I think you brought up an interesting aspect which, in fact, I was mulling in my mind just now. That is, airlines, railroads, and bus lines are distinct from other types of businesses in that they are all common carriers. And under the common law, such carriers have an affirmative duty to provide transportation to all comers (so long as reasonable tariff conditions are met, e.g., tendering of fare, adherence to reasonable rules). I think the underlying public policy basis is that common carriers provide a service essential for society, and therefore the business owner is prohibited from exercising the ordinary property right of excluding others. Could not the use of discriminatory rates have the effect of exclusion?

  • LFH0

    I’ve been tempted to use a proxy server in a foreign country to see if the same thing might happen. I haven’t had the time to do so yet.

  • LFH0


  • $16635417

    In my area, anyone can get the cheaper rate just by saying they don’t have a card and don’t want one. The cashier simply enters a generic code to bring the prices down to reward card levels.

    I.m curious why you think airlines would hide more cheaper fares. You stated elsewhere that hotels offer better rates to elites…why not airlines?

  • BillCCC

    I voted yes but I really wanted to vote ‘It Depends’. If a customized ticket provides value I will happily buy one. If I fell that that it does not provide value I won’t buy one.

  • $16635417

    That’s pretty big area to offer a discount encompassing a wide spectrum of people. How would it be if they offered discounts to residents of Bel Air but not Compton? In my case it was the next zip over that got it but not mine. (My town not as affluent.)

  • $16635417

    I like how you used the term value and not cheaper. I would happily purchase a bundle with a bag, a beer and a movie if the price was right.

  • LFH0

    If you had the power to implement one of two systems as a matter of public policy, which one would you choose?

    1. All tickets for a given route are $100.

    2. You and your family can buy tickets on a given route for $90, but the fare for everyone else is $125.

    That is, society benefits from no. 1, but you personally benefit from no. 2 by having everyone else pay more. In effect, this is the same conundrum facing people when they vote (do I vote for the politician who offers me the most “free stuff,” or do I vote for the politician best for the country as a whole?).

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Sadly, by way of the cookies every website has, they already know everything they need to know about each of us. As a website owner, I can tell you that because of cookies, I know so much about the people who visit my site, including income, whether or not they have kids, what else they’re interested in and whether or not they have higher education (which is another indicator of income). If they really wanted to charge based on these factors, they will and you’d never know where the information came from.

  • Noah

    That’s a lot of “no”s on the poll. I guess you all will quit flying if this is approved.

  • Bill___A

    Most ideas by the airlines are intended to maximize their revenue and not for any other benefit.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    It’s only redlining if it violates a statute or right.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Disney offered the special from San Diego to Santa Barbara. But unless the business is part of a highly regulated industry, targeted promotions are legal.

  • BillCCC

    As soon I can make those rules I will answer that question. Until then I will stick with my original comment.

  • $16635417

    San Diego to Santa Barbara covers a large area encompassing many socio-economic groups. Would offering it to Bel Air and not Compton be legal? That is similar what happened in my case.

  • Cybrsk8r

    If you really think the airlines are doing this to the help you, then I’ve got $50,000,000 I need to move out of Nigeria and all I need is for you to send me a few thousand dollars …

  • Jane

    The part I object to is where *they* decide what *I* can afford. Tell me what you’ll provide in exchange for more money, and I’ll tell you whether I am willing to pay that much money for it. There isn’t enough data in the world to allow someone else to decide for me what I want to pay for.

  • EdB

    are you saying you were not included in the SoCal Passport for Disneyland because you lived in Compton? Because if that is the case, someone told you wrong.

    But as for offering a discount to people living in Bel Air and not Compton, yes, that would be legal.

  • $16635417

    Nope. I think I explained my situation in the thread pretty well.

  • $16635417

    If I had 2 seats on my plane and knew that one person would pay $50 in advance and one would pay $100 the day before the flight, yet I needed $125 revenue per flight to break even…I would devise a pricing strategy to sell one at $50 and one at $100 based on customer purchasing habits. If I priced both at $100, I would not sell the second seat. If I sold both at $50 I would be leaving revenue on the table and operating at a loss. If I lowered the price to $75, I would sell one but not the other…to someone who would have paid $100.

  • EdB

    Well, it wasn’t clear to me it seems. That’s why I asked.

    But as Carver said, unless the industry is regulated to prevent it, targeted promotions are legal. So in general terms, yes it would be legal to offer a discount to residents of one city but not another.

  • MarkKelling

    Why not? They already give their most frequent flyers benefits that costs the rest of us lots if we can get them.

  • MarkKelling

    I don’t trust airlines. :-)

    If you are someone who normally doesn’t select the rock bottom price or if you usually purchase business class seats, why would the “customized” pricing include anything else? Until we know exactly what the airlines mean by “customized” this is a difficult thing to guess at. It’s just that everything airlines do these days seem aimed at nothing other than increasing their profits. So how would offering lower prices benefit them?

  • $16635417

    If it were legal or not was not really the original ask. My point is that this has been going on for years in the airline industry. Scroll up and you’ll see:

    “I first encountered a form of this about 25 years ago. A friend at work brought in something he received in the mail for a discount off airfare. I called to use it and was denied because I was told the zip code on my frequent flyer account did not match the list that this promotion was targeted for.”

    After that, Carver brought up the Disney discount, I only asked if a discount to everyone residing in SoCal could then be further targeted to only zips that I preferred in my establishment based on that zip code’s demographics. From what you’re saying it can?

  • MarkKelling

    Thanks. I’m not familiar with the laws so that is why I asked.

    Could it be that since all of the perks are published and anyone who meets the conditions receives those perks uniformly the laws are not being broken by the airlines? The agreements made between the railroads and the fat cat businessmen were not public nor were they available to any customer other than the one who negotiated.

  • MarkKelling

    Or …

    Greetings my fond friend. I took a late trip to London in the England area this week end unexpectedly. I was mugged and lost everything. I need you to send my by Western Union transfers at least $2000 to cover my hotels bills and issuance of a return ticket which I will repay to you immediate when I return. Here is the claim information for Western union …


  • Matt Blumenfeld

    It’s a great deal. For the airlines, anyway. Imagine if the supermarket did their pricing in this manner:

    You pick out a can of tomato soup and go to the checkout line. They won’t sell you the soup until you give them your personal data. The soup rings up for $1.50. It seems a bit high, but that’s the price, so you pay it and go home. Your neighbor picks out the same kind of soup, supplies their information and buys the soup for $.75. What is going on, anyway? It turns out that your neighbor buys a lot of tomato soup so they get a discount. They also get preferred can selection so that they don’t have to worry about getting a dented or disfigured can of soup. You don’t buy tomato soup very often, so you have to pay a bit extra. You also have to pay a fee for having the label attached because you aren’t in the Soup Elite club. If you want to get cans that look nice you have to pay a little something extra for that, too. In addition, you make more money than your neighbor so the price is adjusted for that, as well.

    Perhaps you’d be willing to accept that model as “just the price you pay if you want to do business with FoodCo,” but I’m guessing that most people would vote with their pocketbook and go elsewhere for their groceries. If ALL of the grocery stores were using the same model and sharing your information, it would cause a ruckus of epic propertions, or at least I’d hope that it would.

  • EdB

    Yes. Using the Disney SoCal passport as an example, you can only get the discount if you live in zip code 90000-93599, basically the southern California area. An unregulated business can use targeted promotions.

  • JimDavisHouston

    Since the “NO’s” are pretty well on target, I’ll just say no and leave it at that.

  • Frank Windows

    This is so friggin’ ridiculous. The airlines are turning into used car dealers. Hey airlines: How about this for a concept: Just give us ONE PRICE that includes airfare, baggage, carry-ons, a seat with breathing room, a three-ounce glass of soda with two ounces of ice, and unlimited use of the toilet. I promise, we’ll be much happier with you if we know up front that it costs $235 to get to Cleveland, than we are when we think it costs $150 to get to Cleveland and find out at the airport that it’s actually going to cost us $200. Be honest with us, so we can make informed decisions about our travel, please.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Was that a cut-and-paste from a real one? It’s pretty realistic. Right down to the bad grammar.

  • BMG4ME

    I think it’s a great idea.

  • MarkKelling

    I got that one at work … from myself!! :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Probably not. Almost every transportation business has different prices for different customers. All private overnight services, planes, greyhound, etc.

  • AJPeabody

    Fool me once, shame on you, etc. Every single megamerger in every field of business is always billed as “saving consumers money” and “offering wider choices” and every last one winds up screwing us. Now they change the price by when you buy and how many seats they need to sell and how hard it is to make a change or get a refund and number of bags and do you want fries with that. The new scheme will be to charge not by WHAT you want but by WHO you are and where you live. Age? Why not. Race or sex? Who will know, as no two people will ever get the same rate.

    If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, don’t tell me it’s a peacock.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That sounds reasonable. The legal and economic landscape is fundamentally different than 150 years ago as well as the level of information dissemination. Accordingly legal constructs of yesteryear are not automatically given the deference t
    hat is generally accorded laws.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Because I don’t check luggage, don’t want that nasty food, brought my own drink on board,

  • JenniferFinger

    I don’t know if I would buy a “custom” airline ticket unless I knew what I was paying for, what I wasn’t, and what other airlines were offering. I have to admit that using personal information to customize an offer to me worries me a bit because who knows what will happen to the information?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Difference is, if I don’t have my card with me, I pay normal prices at the pharmacy. I would pay the same price for the same item at any of the other, competing pharmacies in the region. But I would pay much higher prices at the grocery store than at its competitors for the same item.

    Started typing an overly lengthy explanation and realized I’m not doing a good job of explaining myself. In essence, if something changes after the purchase – equipment, flight times, airports, etc. – then the customer may have to pay more to accomplish the same itinerary and level of comfort desired. (We’ve seen these in umpteen cases that Chris Elliott has presented.) Does the customer pay the going rate, comparable to other rates? Or the much higher rate, as at that grocery store I talked about?

    In other words, will the airlines jack up their non-customized standard rates in order to subsidize their customized rates, and then find ways to charge the non-customized fares?

    Hope I’m making a little sense, here.

  • Don Spilky

    Given that this is an airline industry initiative, I have absolutely no faith that this would benefit the consumer in any way, shape or form. In my opinion, this requires a level of trust from the public that airlines have simply not earned.

    I’m sure we would all love to do the anonymous comparison shopping to see if a customized ticket might benefit us, but I’ll bet that the ability to shop online anonymously disappears as we will be REQUIRED to enter at least some demographic information before being shown a price.

  • IGoEverywhere

    The definition of a custom airfare is ??????????????????? It looks like the greed of the airlines is here to stay.

  • Lindabator

    True – but the PRICE is a level playing field.

  • Lindabator

    Issuing country WILL make a difference in most cases – provided you are LEAVING from that country – there are special prices for Europeans when travelling over here, and vice versa. But only available when booked in the departure city’s country.

  • Lindabator

    Correct – they are looking to target the pricing based on past travel (and that’s where the business traveller might get run into a problem if THEY are now paying for their seats) and based on your credit card usage (if it is the airline’s) as well as your zip code (here we have a couple that would be a huge bump up from one number to the next due to the type of housing)

  • Lindabator

    And therein lies the problem – the more WE are looking for a discount based on what we WON’T use, the more they will charge EVERYONE for it. And you WILL be paying for it somewhere along the way – like when you want to travel WITH the wife, not aisles away from her. :)

  • wiseword

    On Facebook my birth date is 1905. Anyone have a problem with that?

  • BedaBeda

    I do not want give out my information first to find out what the fare will be. I want to find out what the fare is, decide whether or not to buy, and then and only then give my details to actually buy the ticket.

  • Daniel W

    Anyone who’s ever bought a new car knows it’s a fairly frustrating process, because NOBODY will give you a straightforward price online: they first ask for all sorts of information from you, and then you have to wait for them to send you “a quote” – which you still need to negotiate. It’s a very inefficient way to compare prices, and it requires patience and negotiating skills… is this where plane tickets are headed?

  • Joshua

    Well, if I had no choice but to buy a “custom” airline ticket or not fly at all, I would buy a custom airline ticket. But if the question is “Would you WANT to buy a ‘custom’ airline ticket?”, I think the consensus is “probably not.”