As a Travel Agent who is also a Travel Professional, one of the things which is often researched is the pricing of flights. The airlines have various fares available on the same plane, so the seat in front of you may have cost $200 less than the one you are sitting in and the one behind you, may have been $150 more.
Besides the Airlines desire to make as much money as possible, by updating their systems and adjusting the prices continuously to reflect the demand and availability, there is a reason why some people can pay less than others on flights and it’s something that a true Travel Professional will look at, when researching your flight options to a specific destination.
This widely known trade secret is something called “Packaged airfares”. What is a “Packaged Airfare?” This is when an Airline provider negotiates a contract between themselves and car rental company’s or hotel suppliers to increase their sales volume. This means the cost of those flights, when sold with a car rental or with a hotel stay of any duration, will be at a less expensive rate than what you can buy the flight for by itself.
Think of it as the partner the Airline is working with, as subsidizing the cost of the flight and the client being able to take advantage of the negotiated rates, which generally don’t fluctuate as much as airfare does alone. Many times a package which includes car rentals or hotel accommodations, when sold together with this required ‘land component’, may include a heavily discounted airfare that is not available separately.
This is why an actual Travel Professional with experience, will always check “Air only sold with Land component” air fares, when researching flights for their clients, as it may actually be a better value to book their flights that way.