How to Find the Most Expensive Flight

While others debate the best way to track down the lowest airfare, I went the other direction, spending the evening tracking down the most expensive airline ticket out of town.

Each of these airlines have a telephone number, but they make it pretty clear they'd rather have you on their website than on their telephone reservation line.

 April 2 - 4 (tomorrow)
  Sacramento > Johnasburg, South Africa > Sacramento
Customer service at Delta Airlines smiled over the phone. She loved the idea and was ready to help. "You need to fly first class, tomorrow, to Johannasburg, South Africa. Ticket price? $11,616.16.


Jet Blue
  April 2 - 6th (tomorrow)
  Sacramento > Nassau, Bahamas > Sacramento
Jet Blue was only taking reservations for flights before October, so I couldn't book December travel. I opted for also-expensive "right now!" travel, booking a flight for tomorrow. Jet Blue also doesn't offer 1st class or overseas travel, so my flight to the Bahamas was a measly $1,180,20.


United Airlines
 December 18 - 20th
  Sacramento > Sydney, Australia > Sacramento
Telephone Customer Care at United helped me get started, suggesting that December weekend travel would be the most expensive time to fly, that Australia is an expensive destination and their first class tickets during that time were astoundingly expensive. She quoted me two one-way tickets for $25,536.60, but a round trip ticket for the trip go for $19,875.20.


British Airways
  December 18 - 22
  Sacramento > London, England > Sacramento

I love British Airways, especially on the phone. The first gal I talked to said that just going first class to London would get me to a very pricey total, and she was right. Flying first class in December, from Sacramento to London would be $26,798, plus I could add $116.88 to offset the carbon released on the flight.

Off the phone, I figured a trip further away from London would be more expensive, so I called back requesting a flight to Syndey, Australia. My new service agent laughed, letting me know that their international flights go through London, and that if I flew from Sacramento to Sydney I'd be going the wrong way 'round the earth, and that it would take two full days.

American Airlines
  July 1 - August 5th
  Sacramento > Istanbul, Turkey > Sacramento
The gal at American Airlines telephone customer service quickly picked up the spirit of what I was attempting. She set me up with a mid-summer 1st class trip from Sacramento to Istanbul, Turkey for $14,445.50.


Virgin Atlantic
  December 19 - 25
  San Francisco > London, England > San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic did something clever with their phone tree. The split callers into reservations for coach and for upper class. I'm sure wait times were arranged accordingly. In any case, I asked about a first class ticket to London and got the $16,202.90 price. (includes chauffeur driven ground transfer). This is actually refered to as "upper class" instead of "first class", and the same flight, if reserved as "not flexible" is available for just $3,785. How could flexibility cost an additional $12,000?


Quantas Airlines
  December 19 - 26th
  San Francisco > Brisbane, Australia > San Francisco
Quantas introduced me to the first male telephone customer service officer I spoke with. He let me know that their direct flights into Brisbane don't actually have first class, which would limit my Christmastime flight to just $6,151. However, he gave me the option of flying a first class ticket to Melborne and then jumping to Brisbane in coach for a total of $20,922.20 (plus a $15 telephone booking fee). They also offer a carbon offset option, for an additional $118.

And there you have it! British Airways wins with a $26,700 first class flight to London. For that amount of money, it might be easier to just buy out a whole row and to lie down across the seats.

I think I'll stick with first class postage.


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