Qantas yesterday cut its airfares for next year’s grand final flights, and blamed Eagles fans hours after The Weekend West found that its prices were almost twice as high as those of Virgin Australia — but said Eagles fans were the cause of the big gap.
At 9am yesterday, the cheapest Qantas flights were $629 one way to Melbourne on Wednesday, September 25 until Friday, September 27 for a direct flight.
Virgin Australia fares were from $326 to $359.
The same levels applied to the return flights from the following Sunday until Tuesday.
However at 2.30pm yesterday, after a request for comment, the one-way Qantas fares on all days fell to about $400.
The airline’s explanation was it had been swamped with bookings from Eagles fans who think the 2018 Premiers can make it two in a row, and the revenue department had not released more lower-priced fares.
Airline booking systems are usually divided into “13 fare buckets”, though booking engines only show a few price points.
Once one level is sold, the fare automatically defaults to the next level and requires either revenue management staff or a software program to adjust the settings, adding more seats to the cheaper levels, depending upon market conditions.
“West Coast Eagles fans are obviously very confident about next year as we have already sold three times more fares for the AFL grand final weekend compared to the same time last year,” a Qantas spokes-man said.
“And if either West Australian club makes the grand final, Qantas and Jetstar will put on more flights with lower fares, as we did this year.” In June, Qantas offered a Back Your Team early-bird sale for AFL fans, with Perth-Melbourne fares from $399 one way over the grand final weekend, with the option to rebook to anywhere on the Qantas network with the standard $99 change fee waived if their team did not make the finals.
The airline said it would make a decision next year about running this campaign again.
Qantas was accused of fare gouging for this year’s grand final after it had one-way business class fares at $3500 on sale.