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Gaming Airline Fares
Old 03-29-2014, 02:02 PM   #1
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Gaming Airline Fares

I'm setting up some flights for next July on SW Airlines. We need to fly 5 people from Portland to Detroit. When I enter 5 people flying, the price is $280 each, vs when I enter 3 people, the price is $230 each.

Anyone have insight into how best to game this? Should I wait until midweek and start over?
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:25 PM   #2
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This intrigued me, so I tried it on a random date in July. Ayup, I could see a couple of higher fares offered for the group of five.

I expect this is because SWA offers a fixed number of seats at a given price. If they have four seats at $230, and more seats at $280, then when you ask for five seats they don't see five seats at the $230 price and offer all five at the $280 price.

I'd snap up the $230 seats then buy the next two at the next best price.

Disclaimer: just my guess at how it works...
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:38 PM   #3
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It's been a few years for me since I traveled w/SWA(5-8 yrs ago), I found deals using the DING desktop or phone app and also sign up for their email specials. Check the DING specials multiple times per day. The bigger the city, the better the deals. I used to fly LAX-MDW and buy my tixs at best price available, then scan the specials during the week and rebuy them, then cancel the originals. This worked well for me since I was doing this weekly. You get a lot of people who cancel last minute since SWA wouldn't surcharge you for cancelling, I'm not sure if that's still the case. You can sometimes catch great prices the last 0-2 weeks before your travel date. Also, look for first/last flights out, they tend to be cheaper in general.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:20 PM   #4
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Kayak has a feature where you can see the lowest air fares day by day, hour by hour over a week long period. That is the best tool I have found lately for air fares, especially if your days and time are flexible. I think it shows how many fares are available at each price, though sometimes the fares actually get lower as time goes by, not necessarily more expensive.
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I did add SW's Ding app to my computer and bought as many tickets at the low price as I could, then the rest at the next price tier up. Since SW will let you change a ticket for free, I'll watch and change to any lower fare that comes along. Even if I don't find any lower fares, I feel that I got a decent price compared to other airlines, especially once baggage costs are factored in.
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:29 AM   #6
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This is NOT only a Southwest issue, I have run into this with buying anything more than one ticket. Apparently the airlines sell some seats at one price and other seats at other prices. If you buy one seat, you bet the lowest price, if there is only one seat left at the low price and you request two seats they will give you two seats both at the next higher price. You do not get one seat at the low price and one at the next price, or both at an arithmetic mean price of the two. Nope, you pay more. I always just request price for one flyer when doing research, then when I reserve for more, I can see if this is going on and react accordingly as suggested, by splitting up my ticket buys.
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelover View Post
Since SW will let you change a ticket for free, I'll watch and change to any lower fare that comes along.
I have changed a SW ticket on occasion to get a lower fare. One small catch - You get your savings in the form of a credit that must be used within a year of the original purchase date (not the change date or travel date). So if you don't fly SW very often, you may not actually get to use your savings.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:35 AM   #8
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I have changed a SW ticket on occasion to get a lower fare. One small catch - You get your savings in the form of a credit that must be used within a year of the original purchase date (not the change date or travel date). So if you don't fly SW very often, you may not actually get to use your savings.
If you are not aware that one ticket could be had for $230 and $270 for the second ticket you won't ever get a lower fare because you were unaware. When you shopped for two tickets they charged you $540 ($270 x 2). If you bought them separately it would be only $500. ($230 +$270). They won't tell you when you shop for 2 or 3, 4 or more tickets that any of them might be cheaper. So SW generous change policy is of no help if you are not aware of the way they price one ticket plus one ticket vs two tickets. With bigger buys this can really add up. For example there might be 5 lower price tickets left but if you buy 6 tickets --all 6 get sold to you at the higher price and you would never know you could have 5 low priced and one higher price!
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:34 AM   #9
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When possible I fly Westjet. Their website clearly indicates which flights are on sale (frequently the very early departures or late arrivals) and says exactly how many tickets are available at that price. If I delay the booking, that number goes down and when it reaches zero the fare increases. Presumably a large group has the option of booking some seats at the discounted price and some at a higher price. It is also helpful to sign up for airlines' emails so that you know about seat sales right away.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:14 AM   #10
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When possible I fly Westjet. ....
Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately it looks like they don't service the cities that I need right now.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by urn2bfree View Post
This is NOT only a Southwest issue, I have run into this with buying anything more than one ticket. Apparently the airlines sell some seats at one price and other seats at other prices. If you buy one seat, you bet the lowest price, if there is only one seat left at the low price and you request two seats they will give you two seats both at the next higher price. You do not get one seat at the low price and one at the next price, or both at an arithmetic mean price of the two. Nope, you pay more. I always just request price for one flyer when doing research, then when I reserve for more, I can see if this is going on and react accordingly as suggested, by splitting up my ticket buys.
That is such a good tip! As savvy as I thought I was, it never occurred to me to do single seat searches rather than always defaulting to two.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cat-tirement View Post
I have changed a SW ticket on occasion to get a lower fare. One small catch - You get your savings in the form of a credit that must be used within a year of the original purchase date (not the change date or travel date). So if you don't fly SW very often, you may not actually get to use your savings.
Do you know if the credit goes to the person that bought the ticket or to the person flying on the ticket?

Also, is the one year time limit to buy another ticket or to fly on that ticket? Could you buy a ticket within the one year limit, then exchange it for a later date?

Devious minds want to know.
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