Airline Tickets – How to Save on Trips for Two or More Passengers

Mountain scenery

Airlines prices

Not all economy class seats cost the same. There are several price points for these seats, so the price of tickets can vary quite a bit depending on a variety of factors. For example, last-minute tickets usually cost a lot more than tickets purchased a month ahead; or, prices can fall if a destination loses popularity.

System quirk

Now, imagine you’re shopping for a family of four. Your airline has one ticket for $100, but the rest of its inventory costs $150 a piece. If you think you can purchase four tickets – in a single transaction – and end up being charged just $550 (one ticket for $100 and three tickets for $150), it’s probably not going to happen. Instead, you’ll pay $600 (four tickets for $150). This is due to a quirk in airline reservation systems. Here’s how it works: All tickets bought in a single transaction (which is how most of us buy tickets) must cost the same.  In other words, even if there is still one last ticket going for $100, a request to buy four tickets will automatically bump the entire purchase up to the next level or tier of reservation system prices, with the result that all four seats cost the same.

Shop one-at-a-time

If you need to buy tickets for two or more passengers, first, test the reservation system’s prices. That means, shop for one ticket and one ticket only; then, before you buy it, open another window on your computer and do it again, price out another single ticket, and repeat as necessary. If all the tickets cost the same, go ahead and buy all of them in a single transaction. If the first ticket (or first two) are less expensive than the other tickets, buy the cheaper ones in one transaction and the higher fares in a second transaction. An easy way to save a few bucks.

Group sales

Another way to save, at least sometimes: If you are traveling with a group of eight or more, check to see if your airline has a contact number for ‘group sales’ (you’re more likely to find this with major carriers). Before you call, though, price out a few single tickets, just so you’ll know for sure if the group ticket price is a bargain or not (sometimes it isn’t).

Now start your shopping, and find yourself a deal.

Rick Seaney
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