Monday, July 3, 2017

Cost of Travel.

Airplane, Aircraft, Airline, Plane  I am currently in Phoenix as I write today's entry.  When I purchased my tickets, I had to decide which routing I wanted.  If you do enough travel, you know you usually have so many different choices on routing and cost.

What factors do people look at when deciding on selecting the ticket.  Some routes, you really don't have much choice because there are only two or three flights a day, while other routes have tons of choices.

In addition, you often have to look at arrival times.  I travel to a place where the last flight arrives at midnight but the car rental places shut down by 9 PM.  So I end up renting a hotel room for the night, pick up the car the next morning and I'm off.

I usually look for the cheapest routing but tonight I wondered if the cheapest ticket is actually the cheapest?  Can we look at just the total cost or can we look at the cost based on the price per mile? Should one include the cost of the hotel room as part of the cost?

I travel with an airline who offers more perks with each level gained.  When you get to 20,000 miles, you earn the status of MVP or Most Valued Passenger.  I usually get this level due to living in Alaska.  Every time I fly to Seattle, I get between 1500 and 2000 miles depending on the routing.  At 40,000 miles, you become MVP Gold and if you manage 75,000 miles you become a MVP Platinum.  I've never gotten that high but I have managed MVP Gold a couple of years.  Gold gives you some First Class upgrades you can use on purchased tickets but you are also bumped up to First Class if there is space.

So you may wonder where I am going with this?  If the cheapest really the cheapest or if you paid a bit more and got 500 miles more is that better.  Being the geek I am, I've been known to sit down and calculate the cost per mile to see which one was actually a better price.   I also look at the additional cost of the miles if I pay for a longer routing. 

Later this summer, I am traveling to Finland but I have to fly from Alaska to DC before I head off to Finland.  I have to do this because there are two flights out of Anchorage each week but the days do not work for getting back to work on August 14th so I had to look at alternatives.  The cost was not much more going that routing and I get a bunch more miles on my frequent flyer account.

I want my students plan a trip, choose their flights, and provide their reasons for selecting said routing.  I also want them to calculate the cost per mile to see if there is much of a difference between choices.

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day and a wonderful 4th of July celebration. Be back on Wednesday with more math.