So flights out of SFO to EWR were ABSURDLY pricey for our flight back east, just one way. Get this:
To fly from SFO to EWR was $627. So I did a "nearby airport" search with "flexible dates."
It turns up that flying out of Monterey at 9 AM was only $176, but soon jumped to $200. Of course, that flight goes from MRY to SFO, then gets on the same plane that goes to Newark. Same flight in the end. Lucky for us we're leaving our car in MRY so it works out.
However, the "nearby airport" search on both ends created an itinerary of SFO --> PHILLY. Philly is considered a "nearby" airport to Newark, within 150 miles. That flight was also $176. Yet, that flight goes from SFO TO NEWARK, THEN TO PHILLY! SAME PLANE!
We couldn't take that option because we are checking bags, and they'd end up in Philly.
Today I check online, just for kicks, to see what's available. We ended up paying around $480 total, with fees, etc. There's a flight available from SFO to HOU to EWR, for $149 one way. I thought, maybe I'll change it. The change fee to get on THAT flight is $1,369 total for TWO. A flight which costs less than our original ticket.
I called Continental to ask why, and they said there are a lot of reasons, but primarily it's because you're "switching origin." I told her, "not really. I did a SFO search initially, and this was the best option at the time based on your recommended airport. I figured all the airports would fall within SFO - ALL SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORTS, which was the option on your website."
"Yes, I understand, but you're switching origins..."
Even better is how it costs $180 less ($1,197 vs $1,369) to switch to a direct flight from SFO to NYC, which if I purchased that same ticket today would actually cost $300 more!
Are you confused yet?
I'm tempted to add a chart, but what's the point?
The bottom line is: The airline uses a matrix, and it's clearly working...