Air Travel: Overtaxed & Inefficient

Air travel is overtaxed.  I’m not even going to create a link to back that up – all you have to do is look at the price breakdown of your next ticket.  I’ve got a flight to London on the 12th of October, and the price breakdown is as follows:

  • Fare:  $288.00 (27.88%)
  • Taxes and Fees:  $672.80 (65.14%)
  • Insurance: $72.06 (6.98%)
  • TOTAL: $1032.86 (100%)


You can plainly see that taxes and fees make up more than 65% of the cost of the ticket.  Not all of that is taxes of course – there will be a $30 booking fee in there for instance – but by the time you add actual taxes and the fees which you pay to the government for TSA agents to molest you, it’s still more than 50% of the cost of a ticket.


It gets more interesting when you factor in just how inefficient airlines are overall.  I was looking at flights to London on 30 October, and I can get an 11 hour and 21 minute one-stop red-eye United flight from IAD to LHR for $1366.  (It goes from IAD to YYZ (Toronto) and then to LHR.)

If I take the train from DC to Philadelphia for $35 (Amtrak Northeast Regional), I can get an 11 hour and 45 minute flight from Philadelphia to London – a one-stop red-eye – also on United – for $589.  The one stop?  IAD!

So I can save myself $742 (diff in price ($777) minus the train ticket ($35)) if I’m wiling to spend an hour and a half on the train to go to Philadelphia before essentially flying back to DC before going to London.

To recap:

IAD -> YYZ -> LHR (11 hours, 21 minutes) on United: $1366

PHL -> IAD -> LHR (13 hours, 15 minutes) on United: $624  (includes Amtrak)

The inefficiency of going from DC to Philadelphia and back to DC actually saves $742.

That’s just crazy.