Round-the-world fare mysteries revealed

Trying to figure out how airlines determine fares is utterly futile, but that doesn’t necessarily dampen my curiosity. On a recent visit to the Star Alliance headquarters in Frankfurt, I sought insights into how the global group sets its popular round-the-world fares.

I always enjoy dropping by the alliance’s modest office — not only because it’s an easy walk from the airport terminal, but also because just about everything it does is unique and pioneering in the industry. With 27 member-carriers, one would think it’s a grand operation, so I was surprised that fewer than 80 people work there…

Airline elite status now easier to earn

Are you resigned to being kicked off the airline elite-status wagon because your travel has dropped significantly this year? Don’t give up quite yet. The trips you make in the next couple of months could earn you double miles that count toward your status, so you could maintain it with half the normally required travel.

It has been rather amusing, though hardly surprising given the persistent slump in demand for seats, in the last two weeks to watch the so-called U.S. legacy carriers match and sometimes outbid each other in their efforts to entice more customers to buy tickets. You might have heard about the various fare discounts currently on offer, including prices to Europe of just more than $400, including taxes and fees, which haven’t been seen in years…