Now, to be honest, the moment that any of us see a "from" or "up to" in a price-led promotion we're likely to switch off and assume it's a con. The price can never be achieved. It's the same with fuel efficiency figures. Does anyone actually believe car manufacturer claims any more? Even if the figures are accurate, it's unlikely that the school run with the kids on board in stop/start traffic will ever replicate what some smart scientists managed to achieve under lab conditions. Walk around the January sales and the "up to x% off" is pretty meaningless, as it usually refers to a couple of lonely items in a corner. To reach them, you have to pass many full-price or moderately discounted items. Same with Airbnb once you get to checkout and the cleaning and admin fees are added to the final bill.
Now, don't adjust your computer screen or book an optician's appointment, but -- wait for it -- Ryanair is actually becoming the good guy in all of this. I know. But trust me on this. Navigate to Ryanair and whatever you do, don't dismiss the "from" pricing in its January sale. Instead, embrace it. Click on the sale banner and select, say, the GBP4.99 flights to Poland. Then something pretty crazy happens. The site navigates to a calendar chart for a week that displays when the flights for less than a fiver are available, it then does the same for the return. It's then up to you if you want to add baggage and speedy boarding and so on. I left the site being able to fly to Poland, and back, for just around ten pounds.
So there you have it. From the airline you would be forgiven for thinking does the most to obscure its "from" prices, there is a very direct offer of taking you to the date when the "from" price applies. I got as far as I could in the booking process, without paying, and could still get to Poland, and back, for ten pounds and a return trip to France this month for twenty pounds. I'm not sure if any sneaky surcharges or taxes are added once debit card details are put in, but even if they were, you've got to hand it to the airline -- it's a pretty amazing turnaround.
At easyJet, the focus is not so much on guiding you directly to the "from" prices, but instead playing the usual game of Battleships as you put in dates to guess when the best prices may be. Mind you, there's a route map that you can input where you want to fly from and the best offers are then shown up. Click on an offer and you are taken to the date and time it applies to alongside a booking button. So that has to a be a promising start.
Could it just be that in the age of post-truth (sorry, said it again) that brands are realising that consumers aren't stupid and actually want companies they can believe in, businesses that play with a proverbial straight bat? I'd suggest this is the case and I'm as surprised as the next person to be hailing Ryanair as taking a lead in this. But give credit where credit is due.