The real cost to fly to see Oracle of Omaha

An amusing story -- amusing in its naivete, that is -- about the upcoming annual meeting of master-investor Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathway Co. has been floating in cyberspace the last two days. The story in Newsweek's online edition leads with the startling information that it can cost more to fly nonstop from New York to Omaha, Neb., over the May 1 weekend than it would to fly to Paris or London the same week. Of course, anyone who shops for air travel knows that's a silly premise. 

Yes, major airlines with nonstop flights to Omaha and the rest of the world charge premiums when service on a route is limited and demand is high -- in this case more than $1,400. And yes, many New Yorkers, particularly Wall Street types, want to worship at the feet of the Oracle of Omaha at this annual busines-social event that attracts thousands of participants. But I just found (as's Rick Seaney did yesterday) dozens of fares for one-stop flights from both the New York-area airports and PHL (only a short train ride away!) for less than $400, and one for less than $300.  Investors who don't live near New York, have a similar array of options.

For all the ranting about high air fares, especially on monopoly routes, by bloggers  and other pundits (me included), in fact, there often is spirited price competition on many routes and among many carriers for those willing and able to plan ahead and do old-fashioned market research. But you knew that, didn't you?