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blue2002

Why not pro-actively optimize complex itineraries?

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An Industry Question, really, so not quite on topic...

We have all seen this: Flying A-B-C (connection, not stop-over) will sometimes cost less than flying A-B directly. OK, we also all know people who at least at some point thought that miles are more valuable than their time and on purpose booked the longer trips, but I digress... I can understand how until a day or so before the departure (or whatever the practical cutoff time) the airline may try to sell seats on the non-stop flight. Once the cutoff time is reached why not run a search algorithm and if there are seats on the non-stop not expected to sell, email pax with connecting flights an offer to switch to the non-stop flight? It could be a no-charge offer, or it could be a nominal payment ("Click here to accept the new itinerary" type of deal). The airline would save:

- fuel

- ground handling (fewer bags to move at point B)

- potential bag recovery costs, should bags misconnect at B

- potential pax hospitality costs, should flights misconnect at B

Is this just a matter of nobody bothering to write code for it, or are there good reasons not to do it?

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There is no cost saving to the airline by sending someone non-stop instead of one-stop.

1. Moving bags between flights needs to be done anyway so a few more bags is no more costly

2. Adding weight to the non-stop increases fuel consumption, but the saving on the shorter legs is nowhere close to being equal. The increase on the non-stop is much greater than the saving on the shorter legs. Now that fuel is 50% of costs it adds up quickly.

3. From a marketing perspective the airline does not want to sell a seat cheaply with a customer expectation that they will get something for free that initially they did not want to pay.

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There is no cost saving to the airline by sending someone non-stop instead of one-stop.

1. Moving bags between flights needs to be done anyway so a few more bags is no more costly

Point taken.
2. Adding weight to the non-stop increases fuel consumption, but the saving on the shorter legs is nowhere close to being equal. The increase on the non-stop is much greater than the saving on the shorter legs. Now that fuel is 50% of costs it adds up quickly.
How so? Are you assuming an almost full non-stop vs. two moderately loaded connecting flights? Otherwise why would 110kg (pax + bag) cost more on a non-stop YYZ-YHZ vs YYZ-YUL-YHZ? Don't planes in general burn more fuel during take-offs and landings than at stable cruising altitude?
3. From a marketing perspective the airline does not want to sell a seat cheaply with a customer expectation that they will get something for free that initially they did not want to pay.
OK, then they can charge for it (e.g. the equivalent of same day airport change fee, but still available on-line before one actually heads to the airport). Also, the offers could be restricted to comparable fare groups (e.g. AC's T+ to T+, L to L etc). Mind you, if indeed there are no fuel savings per item #2 above, the business case indeed gets pretty thin.

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Don't planes in general burn more fuel during take-offs and landings than at stable cruising altitude?

.

Take offs for sure and landings only if they get jerked around by ATC.

There is a rule of thumb that for every pound of weight carried onboard one must board 3% of that weight in more fuel for each hour of flight time. (in my early days it was 5% but engines and airframes are better now)

Since each pound of fuel boarded for the last hour of flight again requires another 3% we get into a compounding calculation for the total flight.

Thus we see that average per hour fuel burn goes up as the stage length increase. Twenty-five years ago no one cared about this but as fuel prices have increased it has created a whole new problem in analyzing flight costs.

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Don't planes in general burn more fuel during take-offs and landings than at stable cruising altitude?

.

Take offs for sure and landings only if they get jerked around by ATC.

There is a rule of thumb that for every pound of weight carried onboard one must board 3% of that weight in more fuel for each hour of flight time. (in my early days it was 5% but engines and airframes are better now)

Since each pound of fuel boarded for the last hour of flight again requires another 3% we get into a compounding calculation for the total flight.

Thus we see that average per hour fuel burn goes up as the stage length increase. Twenty-five years ago no one cared about this but as fuel prices have increased it has created a whole new problem in analyzing flight costs.

I just knew I was missing something pretty obvious. You made me remember some old rocket fuel calculations from physics class. :) Thanks!

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