I expect this has been asked and answered elsewhere, but I couldn't find an exact duplicate.

The multi-leg return fare:


is significantly cheaper than:


KLM's booking office couldn't explain to me exactly why, other than to say it's how the fare structure works.

I assume the airlines have good economic reasons for this, though I can't imagine what they are.

And I also assume that the fare system and its terms and conditions have been carefully engineered, for whatever reason, to make a cheaper fare for the single leg unavailable.

  • 1
    It's similar, but not really a duplicate. This is not about one-way vs return fares, but about additional legs either side of a return fare. It's also about why airlines might do this - what is the economic basis for such a fare structure? Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 16:57
  • The basic reason is the same: supply and demand. There is much more competition for one-stop tickets than for non-stops, and there is a much higher premium people are willing to pay for non-stops. In some markets, that means an airline can charge more, even substantially more, for AAA-BBB-AAA than for CCC-AAA-BBB-AAA-CCC.
    – choster
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:13
  • @choster I don't follow that. CWL is Cardiff airport, a tiny international airport the size of an office building. You can't go many places from CWL, but one of them is AMS - Schiphol, one of the largest air hubs in the world. If you want to go anywhere from Cardiff, you usually go via Amsterdam. Why would adding legs from and to Cardiff make a return flight to Portland Oregon from Amsterdam cheaper? Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:21
  • @DanieleProcida "revenue generation" vs "captured market". Basically.
    – user29788
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:26
  • @DanieleProcida Because it's a different flight. Passengers who are originating in AMS are willing to pay a high premium to go to AMS-PDX nonstop. Passengers who originate anywhere else are not.
    – choster
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


There is no reasonable explanation for it, other than the intention of driving traffic from Cardiff into the KLM network.

KLMs competition for passengers from Cardiff includes Bristol, Manchester and the London airports, and they want you to choose KLM so they price the entire journey competitively, otherwise they risk losing custom to other international airports.

Flying from AMS they are the major airline that flies the bulk of the routes and pretty much have you locked in - although the AMS-PDX segment is a codeshare with Delta.

  • The silly thing about this is that KLM is getting passengers from the UK but losing Dutch passengers who now fly through Paris or Rome, to the same destinations. And all those passengers pay much less than they would have if the 'extra leg makes travel cheaper' tradition did not exist.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:21
  • @Willeke well, that depends on the pricing from Paris, Rome or Frankfurt to Portland - I'd expect it to be fairly similar to AMS... :) in which case KLM won't lose too many passengers that way.
    – user29788
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:23
  • 1
    One day three friends (me being one) traveled to Boston, one Bristol-Amsterdam-Boston, one Amsterdam-Paris-Boston and the third Amsterdam-Rome-Boston. We each paid about the same and it was a lot less than the Amsterdam-Boston tickets if booked on the day we did book our tickets.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:26
  • 1
    @Willeke Yes, but you were willing to take the extra legs, while many business travelers are willing to pay for the quickest flight. From Cardiff that may mean an extra leg to AMS or a train journey to MAN, LHR or LGW, but from AMS itself its a direct flight. Don't take this the wrong way, but unless you are on a plane pretty much every week, you arent KLMs core market :) Don't think that everyones main focus is price, it isn't.
    – user29788
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 17:30
  • It still feels very unfair for people who have to pay their own flights but more than that, it feels unfair out of environmental reasons, have people fly more with more landings and take offs, which are the worst parts of the flight for the environment.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:28

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