If I buy a round trip on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for the usual price, I must stay away at least 3 days. The reason is that I would have to pay 3 times more i f I would return after 1 or 2 days. Other carriers like SAS do not do that. Do you know the reason and if so, can I do something about it?
I made inquiries by phone and KLM said that the government requires KLM to do so.
Airline Passenger Guru’s response:
The government does not determine ticket prices. If a KLM-agent told you that the government requires KLM to sell a one-way ticket at a higher price than a round trip it is blasted nonsense, but a convenient way to fob you off.
Airlines’ price policies are designed to maximize revenues. Therefore, KLM distinguishes between business and other travelers.
Companies are able to pay more for a ticket than individuals who travel for private purposes. In addition, time is precious for a business traveler. Therefore, KLM tries to make business travelers pay more than others.
However, this is only possible in an indirect way by attaching other string to cheap tickets, for example that the itinerary must include a Saturday night. This is unattractive for business travelers as they want to be at home during weekends.
Today, however, the condition is more often a minimum stay, such as 3 days for a domestic trip or 1 week for an intercontinental trip. Someone who flies one day to a city and the other day back again is probably a business traveler whose ticket will be paid for by an enterprise.
This is the reason why KLM charges much more for such a ticket than when somebody stays away for 3 days or longer. In fact, KLM prunes away business travelers’ hotel and other cost.
Currently for example, KLM charges €227 ($250) for a round trip Amsterdam-Copenhagen with departure on April 26 and return on April 27, 2016. You can only take a carry-on of maximum 12 kg (26 lbs). If you want to check a bag the price will increase to €267 ($294).
If you stay away for 4 days, however, and return on April 30 the ticket will cost €109 ($120) with only hand luggage or €149 ($164) with a checked bag. This has nothing to do with the government, but with the market.
In this way KLM makes good money out of its business travelers whose companies pay for their tickets. At the same time the airline makes money out of its leisure travelers who want to travel for a couple of days, but cannot afford expensive tickets.
KLM’s profit margin is of course considerably smaller when it carries leisure passengers than when it carries business travelers.