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Airlines Charge Less for More Suffering

344683989_267caf4d56_oSomething to keep in mind as you head home on the busiest travel day of the year:

The more hellish the flight, the more it may actually be worth paying for. That's because airlines with fewer flights and packed cabins are actually slashing rates to stay competitive.

(As we've already pointed out, less selection with deeper discounts seems to be tactic du jour for big company price wars.)

According to a new study by there are 80,000 fewer seats available for booking out of the 50 busiest cities this November, a 3.4 percent drop in overall surplus. But commuter cities like New York and DC and vacation hot spots like Las Vegas have had rate decreases equal to or nearly double their capacity loss. And even major hubs like San Francisco, which were likely flying nearly full planes to begin with, seem to have cut prices to retain the disgruntled customers they do have. After all, they could always go to Oakland.

Of course, some connection nightmares like Atlanta have been slow to follow suit, perhaps because they are sardined already and there isn't another nearby competing airport. The bottom line: That the beefy guy squeezed into the seat next to you is probably saving you some money—even if he's stealing the armrest.

To figure out if you would have saved more by visiting your parents instead of your in-laws, check out the interactive map here.

Image: Via ma1974, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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  • Chris Reich

    This is so insane. Airlines want business travelers but they gash rates to attract more screaming kids. They give crappy service because their employees get sick of dealing with people who want to carry on a purse, diaper bag, backpack of kiddie junk and a huge snack bag---then argue about bringing the bottle of water they just bought onto the plane.

    Why fight a price war? If the whole focus of a business is on price, the business will always struggle---there is always someone cheaper.

    Fight the battle with no-cost benefits and you are much harder to defeat.

    Why don't the airlines get it????

    Chris Reich