Airfare arbitrage. Frequent travelers know that sometimes different websites (and for that matter, websites versus calling an airline directly) will provide different prices for the exact same flight. What I never quite realized before today was that different countries’ versions of the same website may price differently as well.
I did a bit of experimentation with United’s web site today. United has a whole bunch of local sites: United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore — just to name a few.
I tried pricing out some itineraries on different United website, and I got different prices. (Naturally, each site priced in its local currency, but I used Expedia’s currency converter to normalize prices into US dollars.)
One example: Los Angeles –> Sydney –> Los Angeles, October 10 outbound and October 20 return:
- United States: US$1022.25
- Australia: US$1,776.58
- Great Britain: US$1597.96. However, LA –> San Francisco –> Sydney –> San Francisco –> LA prices at US $1025.
- Canada: US$1619.48
Another example: Hong Kong –> Singapore –> Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong: US$208
- United States: US$ 936.14
- Singapore: US$ 185.00
Guess which site I’d pick in each case? US in the former, and Singapore in the latter. The confusion of airline pricing continues!