Here's what they're doing:
On a Salt Lake City to London roundtrip in mid-March, AA.com prices the outbound flights at $121 (Price verified Monday evening, 1/30/12.)
Yup, $121 outbound to London. WOW! Could this mean that my roundtrip will cost just $242? To London?? Tell the Queen I'll be there in time for tea!
But hold on Tex... when I select my cheap outbound flight and then look for a return flight, guess what? There's nothing cheaper than $690. I look at all the return flights to the end of the month and find... NO CHEAP $121 FARE ON THE RETURN!
Oh, and if you try to book the $121 fare one-way? Forget it. The same seat that was such a great deal before, now not-so-great. Try $1153. One-way.
So what's AA's game? I know they're in bankruptcy and need every penny they can squeeze (they're already charging me extra for my bags, my meals, the oxygen mask, etc.), but who is going to fall for this?
Sure, $121 to London got me excited, but when I saw the price on the return, I just got angry. I'll have to miss tea with the Queen.
What's the point of their pricing? Make their customers mad? Drive them off? It's working.