Travel | July 6, 2021 2:22 pm

Why the World’s Most Expensive Economy Seat Costs $30K

A non-direct 44-hour trip from London to Sydney is currently going for more than $32,000

United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi International Airport, onboard cabin economy class Etihad Airways flight girl sleeping feet dangling.
An example of cabin economy class on Etihad Airways, now $32K
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

At $32,600 per ticket, you’d expect a little extra legroom.

But that’s the going rate for a one-way Economy ticket from London to Sydney, according to research done by Australian Aviation, which might be the most expensive Economy class tickets in history.

Flights to Australia aren’t cheap on a good day. Add in the global COVID-19 pandemic — which saw Australia pretty much cut itself off from the rest of the world — and the government decision to recently reduce the country’s arrival caps, and you can see why prices are so high.

So why did the government suddenly reduce the ability for Australian citizens to come home? They cite an increased transmission of the Delta variant of COVID, which would overwhelm the country’s hotel quarantine system, according to the travel site Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

Australian Aviation notes that while the 44-hour journey is a record, there have been other $15,000-$30,000 flights recently listed. Right now over 34,000 Australians abroad are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to return home (if you’re not a citizen or, uh, filming a movie, you probably aren’t getting into Australia).

The airlines claim they’re certainly not making any money on this. “If you’re doing a flight every day, you might be allocated 25 passengers for five of those flights and then you might get allocated zero passengers for two flights,” says Barry Abrams, the executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, who also suggested some airlines may switch to freight-only flights.

Meanwhile, federal health minister Greg Hunt defended the passenger reduction, but also said he hoped “there is nobody who seeks a commercial advantage from difficult circumstances.”