Business class flyers are being slapped around the chops with wildly expensive ticket prices to Los Angeles when flying from Australia. This is due to a surge in demand, high jet fuel prices, an influx in revenge travellers, a lack of staff industry-wide and the fact that airlines are conducting some much-needed balance sheet repair.
Australian business class travellers had better have a bloody good reason to fly to Los Angeles at the moment, with return ticket prices for flights from Sydney to Los Angeles currently sitting between $21,000 and $26,000.
Hawaiian Airlines is a little cheaper, with some business class flights going for $12,000 (with a 6 hour lay over). You also have the option of flying with United/Virgin Australia on a nonstop flight for $16,000. Beyond that, you’ve got the option of flying with Air New Zealand, with a 3.5 hour layover, for $12,000.
If you can swing it with your dates, you also have the option of flying with Fiji Airways and Qantas, with a 2.5 hour stopover, for $9,651.
Prices for return business class tickets to Los Angeles from Sydney, pre-pandemic, were normally around $5,000 to $10,000. So what’s going on? There are numerous factors at play. First and foremost, is demand. When there is particularly high demand for travel, as there has been generally since we got rid of COVID restrictions, and as there appears to be over the next couple of months especially, prices rise.
It’s not quite as simple as that though. Part of the problem is that although some of us are still as stingy as ever, there are other people out there booking tickets who are happy to spend more on travel.
This ‘revenge travel’ phenomenon is defined as people who were emotionally affected by the lockdowns, crave travel deeply, are very spontaneous, and are willing to spend more money than they would have previously (thus contributing to keeping prices up for the rest of us). Cheers, guys.
Then there is the matter of increased fuel prices, a trend worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the AFR reported recently, “Jet fuel now represents as much as 38 per cent of an average airline’s costs, up from 27 per cent in the years leading to 2019.”
Finally, airline staffing issues (airlines were forced to lay off workers during COVID, and some of them have no desire to return) and the need for balance sheet repair mean airlines are charging a pretty penny for flights at this point in time – across all classes.
Though it remains unknown how long these wild prices will last, we can draw a shred of hope from Stephen Tracy, chief operating officer at Milieu Insight, who told the AFR: “The rise in prices is a short-term phenomenon” and that they are “fairly confident” they will come back down.