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This question already has an answer here:

In this case BHX-FRA return (Lufthansa) is about £140; FRA-WDH return (Air Namibia) is about £500 - and BHX-FRA-WDH return, on exactly the same flights is about £900.

I understand that this is common, and that a single BHX-FRA-WDH ticket is actually worth more to the holder, because:

  • if your Lufthansa flight to FRA is late, a single ticket places the airlines under an obligation to look after you, but if you bought them separately, the staff at the Air Namibia counter may well be very sorry but they can't help you...

  • if you buy separate tickets, you will have to collect your luggage at FRA and check it back into the system

So I can also understand that there is added value in the single ticket.

Questions that have not been previously clearly answered (or posed)

Many questions around this topic have previously been asked and answered, but the first two below have only been answered in passing, while I have not seen any clear answers to the second two.

  • Who gets the extra £260?

  • Do Lufthansa and Air Namibia share it out equally?

  • How does an airline even know that the tickets being purchased are just one leg of a longer journey?

  • Is there some way of beating the system, by having the separate tickets reunited after purchase into a single ticket, so that for example luggage can be automatically routed to its final destination when it's checked in?

marked as duplicate by Nean Der Thal, Gagravarr, CGCampbell, Mark Mayo Supports Monica air-travel Dec 17 '15 at 6:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    It's at most a partial duplicate. "Who gets the extra £260?" is a question I've not seen answered elsewhere. And how is it that the airlines know, when they sell the ticket to the agent or whatever, that it's part of a larger trip? – Daniele Procida Dec 16 '15 at 21:42
  • I agree, I don't think this is a duplicate, because this is asking about two sectors together vs. separately whereas the other one is single vs. return – drat Dec 17 '15 at 0:56
  • No, this is not a duplicate. – fkraiem Dec 17 '15 at 6:31
  • @DanieleProcida I was going to post an answer but couldn't do it before it was closed... Basically, in this case it's LH which gets the extra money because when you book a BHX-FRA round-trip from LH, it is sold at a special discounted price for intra-Europe travel. OTOH if the BHX-FRA flight is sold as part of a BHX-WDH trip, the special fare does not apply and the flight is sold at a higher price. – fkraiem Dec 17 '15 at 6:37
  • And reagrdig the possibility of being checked through to your final destination when you have two separate tickets, some airlines allow it, especially when the two flights are on the same airline or on airlines in the same alliance. Others don't, they are not required to do so. – fkraiem Dec 17 '15 at 7:20
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There is no "extra money". The BHX-FRA-WDH fare is priced as a single entity and represents just one of many different fares sold for any particular flight. No single fare class represents "The Fare" for that flight, they are all calculated using formulas that are designed to: fill the plane, cover costs of operations and make a profit.

So they aren't charging you more because they provide something extra, they are charging you more because that ticket falls into a different (more expensive) fare basis. With a few exceptions, a seat in economy gets the same services irregardless of what price you paid.

jpatokal covered the basic methods of revenue distribution, but for that flight the revenue is based on what Lufthansa's and Air Namibia's prices are for that particular fare class. The fact that other lower prices are offered on the same flight does not come into play when calculating revenue distribution for that particular ticket.

  • +1 for "as a single entity". One can consult Google ITA Matrix to see what one is buying, and it becomes clearer. Here, one is buying BHX-WDH and WDH-BHX at fare conditions which allow each trip to be covered by multiple flights of multiple airlines (see the "rules" link). – fkraiem Dec 17 '15 at 4:58
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TL;DR: It's complicated.

Here's the baseline scenario: Flights from A via B to C, operated by airlines 1 and 2. If you buy a ticket from A to B, airline 1 gets all the money; if you buy a separate ticket from B to C, airline 2 gets all the money.

To merge the two as a connecting A-B-C flight, there are three basic options:

  1. Interline. Two airlines agree to book each other's flights, transfer bags and guarantee connections, but set their own fares and keep them for themselves. This is the case for Lufthansa and Air Namibia, and the reason you're seeing a different price is that they've agreed on a set of fares that only apply when interlining.
  2. Codeshare. Airline 1 buys seats from airline 2 (or vice versa) at an agreed price X, sells them at price Y (which it is free to set), and earns Y-X. (Or, alternatively, just gives airline 2 a commission.) In this case, you're effectively buying the whole ticket from airline 1, who just happen to subcontract the operation of the B-C flight to another company.
  3. Proration aka revenue sharing. Airlines 1 & 2 agree not just to interline, but to split revenue on a deeper level, setting combined fares together and splitting the booty. These formulas are obviously secret, vary from company to company and can be horrifically complex, and depend on a whole host of factors like flight length, fare class, who sold the ticket, amount of competition on that sector etc. The extreme form of this is metal neutrality, where two airlines agree to sell the others' tickets exactly as if they were their own; effectively a merger in disguise.
  • Isn't it the airline which issues the ticket which gets the money? It is not necessarily the first airline you board. – fkraiem Dec 16 '15 at 23:46
  • @fkraiem Initially, of course, but the money is eventually divided up. – jpatokal Dec 17 '15 at 0:01

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