Potentially Save Money When Booking >1 Passenger

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by schnitzel, Aug 26, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    If you ever book flights for more than one passenger at a time, you should consider this technique to see if you can be saving money on the fare.

    Attempt to book the tickets the way you normally would. Get the final fares, and stop. Don't reserve, don't hold, don't pay.

    Then, go back and do it again on the same website (I usually do this right on AA.com) for one person.

    I've been finding, more and more, that my fare for one person is lower than the fare, per person, for my whole family. I believe this is simply because when I'm booking seats for multiple people, there aren't always enough seats for everyone at the cheapest price, so AA bumps the entire group up to the lowest price where there are enough seats to accommodate everyone in my party.

    I'm not faulting AA for this practice (more on that later) but just warning those who want the lowest fare to realize that they might need to split their party up into smaller groups to get the lowest overall fares.

    I've been doing this. On a few flights with my family that are coming up, I've broken down into either a single ticket and a group of three, or two groups of two, depending on where the sweet spot is. If I find a lower price per person for one person than when I attempt to book for four, then I try again for two people. If that works, I go to three. Wherever the fare jumps, I back off by one person and book that group, then go again for the next group at the higher price. If you're worried about booking a partial group before everyone is set, use AA's 24 hour hold for the first group, and then book the second, and then finalize the first one.

    As an example, assume a flight has four seats at $200 each left, but your group has six people. Say the next fare class up is $240 each. If you try to book for six, AA will show you the $240 price for everyone. But if you book for four, and then for two, you get four people at $200 each, and two at $240 each. Saves $160. AA never says, when you are booking six people, "we have four seats available at a cheaper price." That's what you have to figure out for yourself.

    I've learned two things about booking in smaller groups: In general, I try to get myself with one kid and my wife with the other, or one of us with both kids. We both have status, so that way everyone is on a PNR with status. But, on the flip side, if we're on a reservation with kids, we can't get exit row seats. So, depending on the seats available, I may specifically NOT book with my kids, and get them separate tickets.

    As to why AA likely does this, and why it doesn't bother me, I think it's pretty obvious. They are trying to keep the booking process as simple as possible. For them to present on-screen or by phone or through a travel agency website variable pricing for different members of a group would be pretty confusing. People would potentially get upset that AA won't price them all the same, and they make decide to book differently.

    Anyone else deal with this on a regular basis?
     
  2. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    Has doing this ever caused the prices of the next group to go up more than it was oohing as a group?

    Just thinking how supply/demand might affect the prices...
     
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  3. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    Hasn't for me. My guess is, that next bucket of seats is set in place at a specific price and the adjustment isn't live. But, as I mentioned, you could use AA's 24 hour hold as a way to be sure.
     
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  4. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    I've done this for years now. Often times I will be able to book one seat cheaper. There have even been instances when I could book two individual tickets at the lower price, but if I tried to book two together the price was higher. I personally think it sucks that the airlines don't automatically sell some of the tickets in a group booking at the lowest price available and adjust the others when they run out of that inventory.
     
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  5. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

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    Searching for single seats is an old "Clark Howard" trick ... I always search for 1 ticket when I'm researching (usually buying for 2). Once I find the flight I want, if I increment the seats to 2 and the price goes up, I do something different. It doesn't make a difference often, but I know it did at least once. What WE did is find the same cheaper seat on 2 different computers and simultaneously book; the time I specifically remember doing this, we did it from 2 different locations. We were able to get both seats at the same price, albeit on 2 separate itineraries.

    We also did the 2 computer thing once with United where they claimed only 1 seat was available at the quoted price.
     
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  6. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    I've tried that, too. Each time, just at the final step, I get some message about the fare no longer being available on one computer. Maybe AA plugged that hole?
     
  7. Aktchi
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    Aktchi Silver Member

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    This has been known to me as a standard airline practice, not just AA. I believe I have seen this at ITA as well. In any event, I always start by looking for one seat.
     
  8. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Good tip.

    The only drawback is being on separate PNRs, particularly if one is an elite and the other isn't.

    That said, if you are on the exact same fare bases, I've had success (though I don't recall which carriers) connecting PNRs. I can't say for sure if they were "merged" or just "linked / cross-referenced," but in terms of getting elite benefits for all pax in my party, I had no problem.
     
  9. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    You can do this on AA and there isn't a need to have the same fare base. Sister and I just flew to and from SJU and enjoyed upgrades, free luggage, etc.
     
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  10. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    Yup - I've linked PNRs for various reasons after ticketing, and I can get good seats for those in my group, free luggage, etc.
     
  11. Stils

    Stils Silver Member

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    I know on Delta I tried to link my wife and my PNRs and it was supposedly completed. She did not get the free checked baggage (we didn't need it luckily) and when there was an equipment change our seats were split up. Luckily someone was happy to switch with us so it was us two and our infant-in-arms sitting together. At the time I was not an elite flier though and only had free checked bags through the Delta Amex.
     
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  12. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I've had to dicker over this once or twice on DL. I had the same itin as family members, but on separate PNRs. We were on an RJ flight, Y only, so we were all in Y. DL @ JFK tried to charge for some of our bags...but I recalled that I had read somewhere (which I cannot find now) that companions on exact same itin as the elite, even if not in the same PNR, can get the benefits as if they were. After about 2 minutes, the agent caved and didn't charge.
     
  13. bez7
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    bez7 Gold Member

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    Been doing this for years, always start a search for one ticket just to get a price idea. Use ITA for that too, then price the full number of seats at the airline directly.

    DL will make a note on each PNR to 'link' them, but that hardly means anything...we were to the point that we convinced several to switch seats with our kids so the 3 year olds wouldn't have to sit alone and cry the whole time. Usually it's the gate agents that are more helpful, if approached early enough for seating problems.
     

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