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Airfare for One Versus for Three

Booking a trip to Paris/Rome and found a great itinerary in May on American Airlines from LAX to Paris, returning via Rome. Price: $1606. When I went to make the reservation moments later for three people, the price for same itinerary (and same cabin class), jumps up to $2023 per person. What the hell? I'm assuming as the number of seats available decreases, the price goes up. If I book each ticket separately, could i get one or two of the tickets at the $1606 price? Any advice for outsmarting the algorithm?

Posted by
8315 posts

Usually there are different "fare buckets". If the lowest fare bucket is emptied, seats may still be available but at the cost of the next higher level. I think that is what you are seeing. I would think you could get at least 1 at the lower price, but there can be challenges associated with traveling with others and not being on the same reservation. Airlines won't automatically seat you together and in the case of irregular operations you may be treated differently.

I did not have your exact dates, but that price is high for coach. Is this a different class such as premium economy?

Posted by
41 posts

Trip would be May 18- June 4. I choose the option where changes are allowed with a fee (coach, but called Main Cabin versus Basic Economy). I still plan to pay extra to be able to choose seats as my tall husband wants extra leg room. It does make me nervous to be on a different reservation.

Posted by
4010 posts

Right now I could book main cabin (not basic economy) for 3 people for $1736 on your dates on American. I see choices at the higher price, but there are a couple of options at $1736. This is one stop in either Dallas or New York there and LHR on the way back. 5 seats left at this price. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Posted by
1208 posts

Hi Claudia. Yes, that's what is likely happening. There was 1 ticket left in the lower fare bucket, so you could buy that one at the lower price if desired. Additional thoughts:
- Prices change all the time; it's a long time between now and May. You may want to watch prices for awhile and see if they go down so you could get all 3 at a lower price.
- Shouldn't be a problem buying tickets on separate reservations. You all can choose your seats, so just pick seats together for the separate reservations in the same way you would have if they were all on the same reservation.
- The airline can tie your reservations together; they do this all the time; just call them after you book. Once they do that, they will be tied in their system as though they were one.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
319 posts

Well, the airline can link your reservations, but that doesn’t actually have them tied together completely. You do run the risk that if there’s a schedule change or something you could wind up on different flights but usually you can call and get it fixed. You should monitor your flights carefully if you do this to make sure that doesn’t happen.

But I agree the reason you’re airfares going up three is there only one or two low fare tickets left in the lower fare class. Just because you’re looking at basic economy doesn’t mean all the basic economy fares are the same. The way airline systems work when you put in three if there’s only seat in bucket a and one seat in bucket b but four seats in bucked c everybody gets put in bucket c . So try booking one or two and see what happens and then book one or two more

Posted by
4772 posts

After doing research, but before buying tickets, erase all the "cookies" on your computer, turn the computer off, and the go back on line to buy the tickets. Can't promise this will work every time, but it often does. I don't completely understand the technology, but I've been told that the "cookies" in essence tell the web site of your interest and the more interest you have the higher the price. Of course this may be an old wive's tale (or a young nerd's tale), I just don't know for sure. I just do well to turn the &*$% computer on.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks for all the advice. So, I called the airline to see if they could give me all three tickets at the lower price. They said no. I checked same itinerary later in the week and was able to find enough seats at the lower price two days later! Will have to use extra vacation days, but worth the cost savings.

Posted by
2745 posts

So I have a flight to Europe in 79 days. I have never ever ever cleared my cookies or gone incognito or this other “stuff” you need to do. Today the airfare dropped $300 and I got a credit.

Wait, airfare should only go up if you don’t go incognito and go to a lot of other trouble. 😂


Posted by
561 posts

We had this situation where we wanted three tickets going to Europe but our daughter going home separate from us. Suffice to say we had numerous fare bucket snafus, and multiple phone calls and several cancellations but several hours later we got our tickets. Just hoping the cancellation refunds have been properly dealt with. We get our cc bill soon.

Posted by
8 posts

Agree with erasing all the cookies and caches . I did that and prices for seats on Jet Blue that went up 30$.( just a flight from Newark NJ to Boston) I cleared them and prices went down to low price zi first saw. Instructions are on Google and probably on a YouTube site if needed .

ANOTHER option I use is change the web browser . I use Chrome 100% of the time for searching and booking: then ticket prices went up once I was just ready to purchase . So, I switched to Safari and prices were lower again and I bought them .
Good luck !