Detailed Analysis of Flight Costs

In order to calculate the value of certain frequent flyer programs, it is necessary to understand what it would cost to buy those airline tickets with cold hard cash. In economic terms, I think this is referred to as the replacement cost. Given that airline pricing strategy is one of the more complex human endeavors (witness the armies of economics PhDs hired by airlines to tackle this stuff!), we aren’t aiming for anything near perfection here, just a directional estimate. Here are some of the high level aspects of our study:

  • GetDebit uses to find lowest published fares.  We focus on economy fares only.
  • For each route, we identify a low, mid and high season time-frame to visit that destination, and we gather market prices for each of these periods. The table below only shows our low season data so that the table doesn’t run on forever.
  • We focused on major routes within the US, as well as US-Europe and US-Asia. While we could have expanded to cover Latin American, Australia, and other geographies, we felt that we had enough data points to derive useful estimates.
  • For cities with multiple airports, such as London and New York, we searched across all available airports.
  • We always price tickets at least 1 month in advance to try to avoid unusual pricing due to timing-related issues.
  • To calculate the pre-tax ticket costs (necessary for our analyses since frequent flyer programs require participants to pay taxes and fees out-of-pocket), GetDebit backs out from the market estimate the typical taxes associated with a given award ticket on a given route for the specific airline in question.
  • Of course, ticket prices will vary based on many conditions, including fuel costs, general economic activity, supply-demand, and so on. We’ll be periodically updating and adding to our pricing database over time to try to keep it as accurate as we can, within reason.
Detailed Analysis of Various Flight Costs (Low Season, Economy Class, Roundtrip)
From To Date All-in Market Price
LAX NRT(Tokyo) Feb 4-10 $640
NYC NRT Feb 4-10 $822
IAH NRT Feb 4-10 $798
ORD NRT Feb 4-10 $799
ATL NRT Feb 4-10 $822
LAX HKG(Hong Kong) Feb 4-10 $712
NYC HKG Feb 4-10 $702
IAH HKG Feb 4-10 $1,058
ORD HKG Feb 4-10 $797
ATL HKG Feb 4-10 $786
LAX ICN(Seoul) Feb 4-10 $743
NYC ICN Feb 4-10 $960
IAH ICN Feb 4-10 $937
ORD ICN Feb 4-10 $937
ATL ICN Feb 4-10 $984
LAX LHR(London) Oct 15-21 $828
NYC LHR Oct 15-21 $590
IAH LHR Oct 15-21 $732
ORD LHR Oct 15-21 $734
ATL LHR Oct 15-21 $764
LAX PAR(Paris) Oct 15-21 $749
NYC PAR Oct 15-21 $642
IAH PAR Oct 15-21 $717
ORD PAR Oct 15-21 $674
ATL PAR Oct 15-21 $677
LAX MAD(Madrid) Oct 15-21 $564
NYC MAD Oct 15-21 $507
IAH MAD Oct 15-21 $649
ORD MAD Oct 15-21 $579
ATL MAD Oct 15-21 $739
LAX FRA(Frankfurt) Oct 15-21 $591
NYC FRA Oct 15-21 $493
IAH FRA Oct 15-21 $616
ORD FRA Oct 15-21 $591
ATL FRA Oct 15-21 $667
LAX NYC Oct 15-21 $281
LAX IAH(Houston) Oct 15-21 $272
LAX ORD(Chicago) Oct 15-21 $361
LAX ATL(Atlanta) Oct 15-21 $344
NYC IAH Oct 15-21 $290
NYC ORD Oct 15-21 $209
NYC ATL Oct 15-21 $210
IAH ORD Oct 15-21 $214
IAH ATL Oct 15-21 $268
ORD ATL Oct 15-21 $227
DEN LAX Oct 15-21 $239
DEN NYC Oct 15-21 $289
DEN IAH Oct 15-21 $168
DEN ORD Oct 15-21 $239
DEN ATL Oct 15-21 $253
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