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How airlines might gouge you in the future: personalized pricing

06/18/2015| 10:12:00 AM| 中文

How can four passengers who booked the same flight, on the same day at the same time, end up paying four different fares? Welcome to the (possible) future of personalized pricing.


How can four passengers who booked the same flight, on the same day at the same time, end up paying four different fares? Welcome to the (possible) future of personalized pricing.

Imagine a time in the distant future when you and two of your friends are invited to a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C. You log on to your frequent flier account with AnyJet Airlines, and seeing that you have a Greenwich, Conn., zip code, the airline assumes that you’re wealthy and charges you $398 for your fare (unfortunately, despite your tony zip code, you’re actually a modestly paid schoolteacher). At the same time, your friend and fellow wedding invitee who lives in a nearby, less-affluent zip code is also booking the same flight to the same wedding; she’s quoted a lower fare of $310. And when the third member of your trio logs on to purchase his ticket, the airline sees that he’s a frequent business traveler who’s already taken 15 flights this year. It assumes that he’s an easy sale and socks him with a $410 fare.

Welcome to the world of “personalized airfares” or “personalized pricing,” whereby the amount you pay for a flight is no longer just a number based on impersonal factors such as when and where you’re flying or when you booked your ticket. In this possible future, your airfare could be based on who you are, and each fare would be different for everyone — even people booking the same flight at the same time.


The airlines may soon target passengers with personalized airfares that could take the fun out of booking online.

You may not have to imagine that scenario for much longer; some airline industry insiders believe that personalized airfares are coming. Last week at the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA, an airline industry lobbying group), one Spanish airline executive reportedly said it was inevitable that airlines would soon start using personal data to charge some passengers more than others. And while no major air carriers have yet announced such pricing changes, more than a few experts think it’s only a matter of time.

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TAGS: airline | flight booking | NDC | revenue management | Delta
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