As you have probably heard, the Russian ruble has effectively collapsed. This has created a tremendous arbitrage opportunity, but only if you take immediate action to leverage it.
Airline tickets are quoted and priced in GDS systems, and currency conversions aren’t adjusted real-time. With the rapid collapse of the ruble, this means that you can effectively get a discount of 20% or more by paying in rubles versus dollars.
So, let’s look at a nice peak season flight from Los Angeles to Costa Rica on anywayanyday, a Russian travel agency:
As you can see, it’s $792 in US dollars. This is a typical non-sale fare price to Costa Rica during the peak season. Wouldn’t it be nice to turn this into a good peak season sale fare instead?
If you change your currency selection on this menu from USD to RUB, you can pay in the Ruble currency. Note that it’s a good idea to call your bank before you do this, because there is a slight possibility that they might consider it unusual that you are paying for things in rubles on a Russian travel site. By this, I meant that they will panic and block your card, which will cause you an endless amount of hassle. Why use a Russian travel site in the first place? It’ll be very hard for anyone involved to argue later that you shouldn’t be able to pay for things in Russia using rubles.
Now, let’s see what happens after you change the currency:
The price becomes 41,638 rubles. So, let’s see how much that is worth in dollar terms:
Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s $196 cheaper to pay in rubles.
Folks, this sort of arbitrage opportunity almost never happens and it will not last. Take advantage while you can!
UPDATE: Many airlines are starting to correct this by repricing their tickets in the GDS systems. With British Airways, it is actually less expensive to book in dollars or euros now. Double-check the conversion before you book!