Q. I'm paying for my sister to fly from New Zealand to Los Angeles, so I checked Air New Zealand's website for airfares. I first looked at fares from Los Angeles to New Zealand, round trip; then realizing that I had to be on the 'New Zealand' side of the website, I looked at fares from NZ to LA. Same flights, sorta, just different starting points. Is there a reason why the plane that would carry my sister here for $993 (NZ$ 1,500) would turn around and carry someone here to NZ for only $746? Again, the fares were round trip, so the same airport fees and surcharges would be factored in to the price.
Is it because there's more demand for getting out of NZ than there is for getting in? Is it because it's winter in NZ and perennially warm in California? Is it because my sister is coming for my wedding and, like the caterers, Air New Zealand is charging more simply because it's wedding related?
A. First off, congratulations! And aren't you a nice to buy your sister's ticket! We say, scrap the caterers and ask her to whip up the food. Two birds, one less expensive stone? No? Ok, well maybe that's a bad idea. Anyhoo...
Until we truly have a global economy, prices will always vary from country to country, depending on the comparative value of currency and local economies. It's similar to when folks from one country flock to another to stock up on luxury goods for half the price they'd find at home. The same applies to airfares. airlines charge whatever they think the market will bear, based on passenger loads, competition, seasonality, and other factors. In general, also, the airport fees and other fees leaving from a foreign airport will not be identical to those leaving from a US airport.