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On Singapore Airlines, if you book a flight from London to Singapore for almost any date, the price is either £690 or £1088. For example, a flight leaving on the 28th of Dec with return on 28th of June costs £690 but changing either date to make the trip duration longer than six months by even one day increases the price to £1088.

I realize this is only one example but I don't think it's an isolated case. Four years ago, there was a question that seemed to ask something similar but didn't state it clearly. Why do airlines have such a policy?

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    Not a direct answer, but travel.stackexchange.com/questions/11501/… will help you understand how the pricing works. The cheaper fare classes will have conditions that only allow a maximum stay of 6 months, so longer will bump up to more expensive fare classes likely for BOTH the outgoing and return legs.
    – Doc
    Dec 24, 2020 at 19:08
  • Another issue is that outside of 6 months can be considered a separate one way fare rather than a round trip. Dec 25, 2020 at 3:10

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Airlines typically charge "whatever they can get away with", which depends on a lot of factors: season, holiday/special events, historical loads, competition, length of stay, time between booking departure, competition, number of connections etc. It has often very little to do with the actual cost of operating the flight. It's frequently the other way around: non-stop flights are cheaper for the airline but priced higher than connecting flights.

Overall this makes airline pricing mostly incomprehensible and the number of fares and associated fare rules very large even for a single flight. Often a "trial & error" search can save you a lot of money.

In your specific case, you would have to ask Singapore directly. It doesn't appear to be standard practice and I don't see any price jump by going from Jun 28 to Jun 29 for other airlines. Could be operational: maybe they are thinking about changing the route-map and rerouting a passenger that has already started a trip is more work and more expensive than just cancelling an itinerary that hasn't started yet. So the price jump is either "insurance against future timetable changes" or "we think people will just pay extra for this".

If you don't like Singapore Airlines pricing, choose a different airline. Currently a good alternative for 12/28/2020 - 6/29/2021 would be Emirates at £724 and you can go as low as £553 if you are willing to accept more inconvenient routings.

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    Re operational reasons: It's cheaper for them if they have about the same number of passengers flying in each direction (because then they can do fewer deadhead/reposition flights, and they can more easily fill planes to capacity in each direction). So a round-trip really is operationally cheaper (per flight) than a one-way. But this effect weakens the further apart the two flights get from one another, because it's drowned out by seasonal variations in demand. So the price goes up.
    – Kevin
    Dec 24, 2020 at 21:52
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    I wouldn't normally suggest correcting a minor typo, but you have "fair rules" in the second paragraph where I'm pretty sure you mean "fare rules". Dec 24, 2020 at 23:35
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    "insurance against future timetable changes" - or simply insurance against the future. At six months you've locked them into a price with half a year's inflation at their loss.
    – Mazura
    Dec 25, 2020 at 10:03
  • @BobsaysreinstateMonica: thanks for the catch. Fixed
    – Hilmar
    Dec 25, 2020 at 13:48
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This is not a specific 'policy'* the airlines have. All itineraries and routings are dynamically priced.

Why the jump at exactly 6 months? The pricing engine has a rule that increases the return fare on qualifying itinararies.

Why the rule? Only someone in revenue management knows that at each airline but I will speculate that since 6 months is the upper limit for a number of visa types, anything beyond that represents a higher risk of repatriation. Or, they just figured out people will pay it for some reason or another.

*I know, esoteric difference, but still a difference.

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  • IMHO it’s not that much that they have a rule which makes things more expensive if the trip is more than 6 months, but rather that the rule that allows the cheaper fare has a 6-month limit. One would have to double check the fare rules in effet on that route to be sure.
    – jcaron
    Dec 25, 2020 at 23:39
  • @jcaron Same difference.
    – Johns-305
    Dec 26, 2020 at 17:26
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This is all about fare rules. Usually the maximum stay is 1,3,6 or 12 months.

The fare rules for a flight can be found at https://matrix.itasoftware.com/ for free.

You can also use Expertflyer, but that isn't for free.

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