Beware the "Lowest Fare"

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Scott Schmidt, May 11, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    90
    Status Points:
    310
    Since the integration, I have been suspicious of the way the website prices tickets. When I see a routing all in "L" price hundreds more than one with two segments in "L" and one in "W" it raised my eyebrows...

    Yesterday, I had been shopping for a ticket from LAX-AUH... Hoping to redeem some PMUA vouchers, I called into the 1K desk, and the fare quoted over the phone was $56 less than the same itinerary in the same fare classes on the website. I priced it out on the mobile phone and it was $10 more than the website.

    Today, same flights in the same fare classes are pricing out $75 more than I paid. Taxes on the phone ticket were $526.48; on the website they are $634.90 so that doesn't even explain the difference.

    Has anyone else seen this phenomenon?

    How many others are paying more than they have to because United is giving different prices through different sales channels?
     
    sobore and estnet like this.
  2. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    When you say same fare class, have you checked whether it's exactly the same fare code? There can be multiple fares starting with the same letter and pulling from the same bucket that have different rules, for example about advanced purchase, routings, etc. They normally should and do price differently.
     
    Flyer1976 and Hartmann like this.
  3. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    90
    Status Points:
    310
    I have not been able to see that. Regardless, what is the value of a "low fare guarantee" if they're not offering the lowest fare?
     
  4. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,832
    Likes Received:
    14,613
    Status Points:
    11,070
  5. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    90
    Status Points:
    310
    The customer commitment, however, says that they will advise if lower fares are available through other sales channels.

    My point is that we assume that the phone agents, united.com and web app will have the same fares for the same flights. They do not, in this case at least.

    Had I not had to redeem vouchers, I'd have never called in.
     
  6. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    If it's the same fare class, it should not be a matter of the inventory changing, but airlines can and do add and pull specific fares frequently, for example sale prices and strategic matches of fares offered by other carriers. From one day to the next, you may have missed an advanced purchase deadline or the requirement that an itinerary be ticketed within 24 hours of making the reservation.
     
  7. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    90
    Status Points:
    310
    In this case, I pulled the fare up on the computer while on the phone with the agent... Also that doesn't explain the $110 difference in taxes...
     
  8. legalalien
    Original Member

    legalalien Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,536
    Likes Received:
    9,301
    Status Points:
    7,770
    I think the website and agents use different fare search engines: web site uses ITA, while agents use SHARES (and used to use Apollo). So I heard, anyway.
     
    DCA1K likes this.
  9. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    And none of this explains how the taxes are so different!
     
    Scott Schmidt likes this.
  10. legalalien
    Original Member

    legalalien Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,536
    Likes Received:
    9,301
    Status Points:
    7,770
    It's 'taxes and surcharges', so quite conceivable that some surcharge is not properly updated in one of the systems. Without a detailed breakdown of total ticket prices it's impossible to tell though.

    Sent from my Nexus S using milepoint
     
    Flyer1976 likes this.
  11. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    The online price also includes all taxes and fees, and it's possible the other is without everything included.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I thought the new USA law required that all airfares be quoted with all mandatory fees and taxes included. IIRC when this first started, one airline's website (AA I believe) wasn't in compliance and had errors but they had to fix it fast.
     
  13. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    I am not sure the phone training has caught up with the online sites was my point. The online sites now count everything all in, but I'm not sure the phone call the OP made did.
     
  14. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    It sounds like the OP is experienced enough to compare apples to apples - I too have had the experience of getting a price online and then calling (to make sure ug space is available) and having a different price quoted by the agent for the exact same flights - often a few dollars cheaper!
     
    Scott Schmidt likes this.
  15. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    90
    Status Points:
    310
    The online receipt shows the fare quoted over the phone... So that was not the issue.

    This isn't my first rodeo, but it was the first time I saw such a significant difference in pricing between sales channels on United... Big enough I thought I'd share--and suggest people try calling in. They may save some money!
     
  16. Seacarl
    Original Member

    Seacarl Gold Member

    Messages:
    10,521
    Likes Received:
    11,372
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I have seen a phenomenon on the new united.com where, for example, L inventory is available on both segments of a connecting itinerary, but it prices that particular connection in a high fare category, while pricing connections with longer connection layovers into L using each of the individual legs. Let my try to explain, using a hypothetical routing:
    UA 1 dep ABC 9:00 arr IAH 11:00 Y9 W9 V9 L9
    UA 3 dep ABC 10:30 arr IAH 12:30 Y9 W9 V9 L9
    UA 11 dep IAH 11:55 arr SEA 14:05 Y9 W9 V9 L9
    UA 13 dep IAH 13:25 arr SEA 15:35 Y9 W9 V9 L9
    UA 15 dep IAH 14:55 arr SEA 17:05 Y9 W9 V9 L9

    In this synthetic example, I'll see it price UA1 connecting to UA 13 as well as UA 3 connecting to UA 15 in L fare, but UA 1 to UA 11 and UA 3 to UA 13 price out in the higher V class. So maybe there is hidden married segment inventory logic that forcew the "good" connections into a higher fare category tickets but individual segments do have lower fare classes available. When I have tried to use multi city to select the individual legs on united.com it still prices them into the higher fare class.

    Anyone know whether that's right and what the workaround is?
     

Share This Page