Airline advertising and one-way fares


While some airlines advertise their best deals in terms of round-trip costs, most airlines seem to focus on one-way fares. And almost nobody includes taxes and fees in the advertised price. However, if you go to a travel comparison site like Kayak, you’ll see everything in terms of round-trip costs, including all the taxes. Why does the same product get such different treatment?

Perhaps the obsession with one-way fares is rooted in tradition or some obscure airline advertising regulations. Either way, it’s quite misleading to consumers, since the vast majority of people are looking for a round-trip cost, including all the extra junk like taxes and security fees. Plus, the advertised fares usually require a round-trip purchase anyway, meaning you couldn’t even buy a one-way ticket for that price if you wanted to.

At a minimum, the airlines should start including estimated round-trip costs whenever they advertise their special offers. For instance, if an ad promises “Flights from $99 each way”, they would insert some text saying “Round-trip costs start at $220 including all taxes and fees.” Or better yet, just do the logical thing, and ditch the one-way advertised specials in favor of all-inclusive, round-trip pricing. Customers will have an easier time understanding the offers, and I bet those ads will convert at a much higher rate.