Getting a fair fare at LAX and other Socal airports

Which airports are relatively cheap or relatively expensive to fly out of? More to the point, which ones have ticket prices that are either fair or unfair, based on all the factors (weather, competition, size of facility) that determine cost? FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver found that among the biggest airports, Houston's Bush Intercontinental had the biggest markup - $85 on the average fare. The best deal could be had at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, where the markdown averaged $90.

All the local airports offered comparatively good deals: LAX had an average markdown of $16, Bob Hope, $14, and Long Beach $86. John Wayne showed a markup of only $2. Warmer weather cities tend to offer the better prices, perhaps there are fewer delays or cancellations.

Prices are higher the more the legacy airlines dominate an airport, but they also tend to be a bit higher where Southwest has a large share as opposed to other low-cost carriers like AirTran and JetBlue. (Southwest is cheap, but it isn't quite as cheap as some of these up-and-coming airlines and now represents something of a middle ground.) Also, prices tend to be higher when any one airline dominates an airport, regardless of whether it is a legacy carrier or a low-cost one.


The unifying theme is vacation destinations, like Las Vegas and pretty much anywhere in Florida. It's important to keep in mind that the fares here reflect average prices. The legacy carriers often charge comparable fares to those of the discounters like Southwest when they have plenty of seats to fill, but when supply is short or the passenger books at the last minute, they may raise their prices several-fold. For instance, about 10 percent of economy-class round trips were sold at $750 or more by Continental, as compared to just 1 percent for Southwest.

Here's a rundown of the major airports with the biggest markups...


And the biggest markdowns...


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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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