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World Cup Play Off Flights Uproar – ignore the grandstanding!

Following a close second in the pointless and non-newsworthy headlines stakes, we saw this beauty last Tuesday “Shameless rip-off as airlines hike Paris football flights to €300”.

If you remember, I wrote yesterday about the number one most pointless and non-newsworthy headline here. The particular headline above is from the website of Mayo TD, John O’Mahony – the Fine Gael spokesperson on Sport.

There were others though: From the Irish Examiner, there was Angry soccer fans set to hit back over air fare hikes, while the Irish Times had Airlines accused of World Cup ‘rip-off’. The Irish Independent, meanwhile, went with Fans fleeced as airlines shift goalposts.

Rolled out once again for the cheap and easy oneliner, the Chief Executive of the Consumers Association of Ireland had this to say:

The surge in prices was yet another indication of the way consumers were being treated by airlines. “The airlines have a policy of watching where there will be a guaranteed demand and then increasing their prices,” he said.

“They are unapologetic about it. Whatever about supply and demand, once this happens any fairness in pricing policy goes out the window. It’s a case of – if you want to go you’ll pay dearly for it.”

Get over it

Look folks. Here’s the thing. The world and their granny knew that Ireland were going to be playing in one of 4 destinations next month, and that the precise location would be known about lunch time yesterday.

Based on past performance of the airlines when it comes to applying “supply and demand” when it comes to pricing flights for Irish sporting occasions, the world and their granny also knew that once the particular destination was finalised, that the price of flights would shoot up.

Forewarned isn’t, apparently, forearmed

So, what did football fans do to prepare for the situation that was blatantly obvious was going to happen? Nothing it seems – they wait for the draw to happen, they then look for flights, and then proceed to bleat their usual complaints to whomever will listen – and becuase it’s such a soft easy story, there’s always people who will jump on the bandwagon and publish the story.

Was there any way around this?

I heard a story yesterday of someone who’d logged on just before the draw was made and had proceeded as far as possible to booking flights for each of the four potential destinations. As soon as the draw was made, he clicked buy and bought his flight literally seconds later – thereby getting his flight at the normal price rather than at the higher price charged minutes later.

What about booking flights to all 4 destinations at the very cheap prices beforehand and then only using the flight you need? Theoretically (as I can’t retrospectively check the prices now) 4 flights could have been significantly cheaper than the higher prices that people are bleating about at the moment.

How about not buying these flights at the higher prices? Despite the protestations of Mr. Jewell, the airlines are acutally engaging in a perfectly legal and fair practice of charging a price for a service based on the demand for that service – something which any business should never have any reason to be “apologetic” about. If football fans don’t like the prices charged, then don’t pay them – simple as that. Either find an alternative way to Paris (rugby fans did during the 2007 Rugby World Cup), or just don’t go. If the airlines can’t sell their seats, then supply and demand will kick in again and prices will fall if there’s no demand.

How about finding an alternative way to the game? Maybe there are cheap flights into London from where you can get the train to Paris. Isn’t London Waterloo about the same train journey time from central Paris as wherever it is that Ryanair land “in” Paris anyway?

Not Fair

I appreciate that people will feel hard done by though the actions of Ryanair and Aer Lingus, but lets not get carried away here. Buying flights to go to Paris for a game of football is a discretionary spend – you don’t have to go.

If you can’t afford to go becuase of the prices charged, then suck it up. You wouldn’t have gotten your cheap holiday to Spain earlier this year, or your free flights to London for your Christmas shopping in the coming months if we threw out the concept of allowing airlines charge based on supply and demand.

The alternative here would be that we pay consistently the same (artificially fixed higher prices) all the time, rather than paying less sometimes and paying more at other times.

That’s a scenario, I think, that wouldn’t be fair.

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