I am based on Chennai and currently living in Toronto. I am planning to go to Switzerland from Chennai after some months ( once I back to Chennai).

Currently I am estimating my vacation cost ( 3-4 days stay in Switzerland , 4 members family).

Approximately, Switzerland is halfway from Chennai to Toronto ( based on distance ), So I expect the airfare to Swiss should be around 50-60% of the airfare of Chennai-Toronto. ( Assume, other than distance all factors are same ie. travel dates, weekdays, off/on season etc).

But I noticed that Chennai-Zurich costs almost 80% of Chennai-Toronto airfare. ( CAD 850+ compared to CAD 1100, if travel dates falls in Oct 2019).

How the airlines decide fares? As per my understanding distance is the most important factor.

Or Am I missing anything?

  • 6
    Distance has relatively little to do with airfares; see e.g. Explain travel times and distances on flight
    – choster
    Feb 12, 2019 at 21:32
  • I read the post in above link, but still wondering How my question is duplicate of that? As that post is about travel time, take off etc and mine is about airfare. I don't think this is a duplicate of that.
    – user46967
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:12
  • The answers to the previous question explain that distance is not strongly correlated to airfare. A large proportion of the cost of the flight is fixed, because there are fixed costs for the airline (e.g. the landing fee at the airport, the lease on the plane, the salaries of its employees), and fixed costs per ticket (taxes, airport charges). A large proportion of the flight is ascent and descent, the former of which burns a large proportion of the fuel. Beyond that, there is supply and demand. Your search only shows available flights, not all published fares for your city pairs.
    – choster
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:18
  • Thanks @choster for explaining, but this kind of explanation is not available in that question. I don't want to make any assumptions, if you want me to assume, no need to raise any question in SE. We can keep assuming within ourselves. I agree it is relevant, but not duplicate.
    – user46967
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    This question is not a duplicate of "Explain travel times and distances on flight" this question is about the relation between fees and the distance, not about traveltime and distance. The duplciate tag should be removed.
    – Adam
    Feb 17, 2019 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


tl;dr: do not, ever, try to find logic in airline pricing. There is, but it's beyond human understanding.

The airline tries to maximize its profits and once it decides to fly a plane from point A to point B its costs are pretty close to being fixed regardless of how many seats it can fill. So, it'll try to fill it to the brim while asking the most money it can. Obviously cheaper tickets are easier to sell but more expensive tickets bring more profits. So it has very sophisticated systems making a prediction on how much demand will there be for a given route at a given point of time and it will compare to the supply on said route and set price accordingly. This is so badly not based on distance that you can fly from city A to city C with a transfer in City B cheaper than flying from city A to city B -- (ab)using this is called hidden city ticketing.

  • 1
    If the OP feels like looking up more information the name for all of this is "revenue management".
    – cbw
    Feb 13, 2019 at 0:16
  • 1
    yield management is the terminus technicus.
    – user4188
    Feb 13, 2019 at 0:45
  • I understood what you are saying, As a consumer it hurts to pay more for the reasons for which I am NOT responsible for. For example, paying more if less seats are filled in on that day. I receive this fare system as "pay whatever I asks for, because there is demand.
    – user46967
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:59