Fare avoidance

Fare avoidance, as distinct from fare evasion is the lawful use of knowledge to travel using tickets which cost significantly less than the 'normal' fare for a given journey, which is what one might be expected to use. It is common in some parts of the world with complex travel networks, notably the National Rail network of Great Britain.

Typical loopholes that lead to fare avoidance

Apart from mileage, some rail systems or airlines calculate fare based on an individual route's popularity and a host of other factors. Therefore, instead of a fare directly from A to B, a passenger may go from A to P and then P to B for less. This price advantage is more pronounced if P is en route between A and B.

Even if mileage is the sole factor in pricing apart from discounts, applicable to journeys exceeding a certain mileage, paradox may result for borderline cases. For example, a rail system practises a fare structure of $100 for the first 100 km and$6 for each additional 10 km. A ticket from A to B, 380 km apart, costs $268. If a discount of 15% applies to mileages exceeding 400 km only, a ticket from A to C, 420 km apart, would cost$292 × 85% = $248.2. A traveller may buy a ticket from A to C and alight at B, avoiding the$19.80.

Frequently, smart cards, as a convenience, allow the user to run a negative balance. If this balance is greater than the cost of the card, the user may profit by simply discarding the card and purchasing another.

One method is called scissoring, used for business air travel when return tickets are cheaper with a weekend between, assuming that tourists, not business people, travel like that. If two return journeys are done different weeks, A-B and B-A and once again, two tickets can be purchased, A-B,B-A and B-A,A-B with weekends between.

Another loophole is when tickets are cheaper when booked early. Business travellers often book late, but for bigger companies cheaper tickets could be booked early on frequent routes, and be given to travellers when needing them. This is by airlines avoided by requiring correct name and claiming high fees for changing name. This has affected tourists who have misspelled their names, or changed names at weddings without replacing passport.