When a retail store has a sale on a particular item, in most cases, that sale price doesn’t change if you are the first, second, or hundredth customer. The catch is they usually only have a handful of that particular item. Think Black Friday, Generic Retail Store is selling a $200 game console at half price, but they only have 100 game consoles in stock. If you are customer 101 you will not be getting a game console.
Well, it’s almost the same concept with plane tickets. When an airline company has a sale, they don’t sell every seat at the same price. If we use the game console example, the first 10 people would get the sale price of $100, the next 10 people would get a price increase of $10 ($110), the next 10 people the price would increase $10 again ($120).
The consoles prices would look like this:
Customers 1-10 get the game console for $100 each
Customers 11-20 get the game console for $110 each
Customers 21-30 get the game console for $120 each
Customers 31-40 get the game console for $130 each
Customers 41-50 get the game console for $140 each
Customers 51-60 get the game console for $150 each
Customers 61-70 get the game console for $160 each
Customers 71-80 get the game console for $170 each
Customers 81-90 get the game console for $180 each
Customers 91-100 get the game console for $190 each
The major difference with an airline is that a sale could encompass multiple days on multiple flights, and there will be days/flights in which the sale price is not available.
For example: Generic Airline has an advertised special of $300 roundtrip from Honolulu to Los Angeles for travel between 8/1/13 and 10/31/13. You want to travel on 9/1/13 and return on 9/7/13, you check the site and you get a fare of $600. What gives? Where is the sale price of $300? The particular weekend you chose is a holiday weekend and the fare sale of $300 is not available. Using the game console example, you were not one of the first 10 people, in fact you were probably number 99, so instead of the $300 fare you got the $600 fare. Even more confusing is that even when Generic Airline announced the sale price, they probably already sold 98 tickets at a higher price. Confused? Just keep this in mind, if you want to get the sale price on airline tickets, you need to be flexible on your travel dates as your preferred dates of travel may not have the sale price available, and you’ll have to select different dates to get the sale price.
Your travel dates are flexible so you search other days and find the $300 fare. You don’t have your wallet with you, so you leave your computer to get your credit card. In the short period of time that it took you to get your credit card, it’s possible for the sale fare on a particular flight to become sold out.
NOTE: You are not the only person on an airline’s site trying to get a good deal. Airline Websites make millions of dollars a day, and many people are making reservations during the hours they are at work. A medium sized website can receive over 4000 reservations in one day but most of these reservations are made between 9 AM and 5 PM. If you take that into consideration, that means over 400 reservations are being made every hour. The chances of someone booking the same dates as you are slim, but it’s entirely possible. The chances of someone booking the same dates as you increases around holidays.
Another way sale prices disappear is when the number of passengers is increased. You find the sale price of $300 but realize you only selected one passenger, you forgot your significant other wants to travel with you. So, you start over and select two passengers and now all of a sudden, the sale price is gone! What happened? Remember the game console, only the first ten are on sale. You might be customer number ten and your significant other is customer number eleven. BUT WHY DIDN’T I GET ONE TICKET AT THE SALE PRICE? You confirm there is still one at the sale rate by switching the passenger count back to one. Yet, when you switch to two, you get two and the higher price and not one at the sale price and one at the higher price. Unfortunately, most airline systems are not smart enough to sell one fare at the sale price and then the other at the higher rate.
TIP: Purchase your tickets one at a time to get the best rate and then call the airline to have them link the two reservations together. Normally linking the reservations doesn’t do anything unless one person has a better Frequent Flyer status.
The DOT doesn’t have very specific rules on fare sales. I believe the rule just says “A Reasonable Amount” of seats need to be available at the sale rate. There is no definition of reasonable. Most airlines say reasonable is “X” percent of seats during the entire sale period.
HOWEVER, the “X” percent isn’t for each direction of travel, it’s “X” percent total. This means if the airline’s definition of reasonable is 8%, going to your destination could have 6% of seats available at the sale rate but returning home will only have 2%. This means you could get the sale price in one direction, but not the other.
Where Did That Sale Price for Plane Tickets Go? It’s probably there, but in limited quantities and you’ll need to be flexible in your travel dates.
Gone are the days of buying flight coupons from your local travel agent. I remember going to the travel agent down the road and buying coupons to travel Interisland for $50 each way. Nowadays, people are turning to the Internet, but where do you start?
There are three types of online sites:
Aggregator: A site that checks the airfares of various airlines at once, think Kayak.com. They usually don’t charge a fee for airfare, but instead depend on other ways to make money such as advertisements and ancillary sales.
Online Travel Agent: A site that checks various websites, but charges a fee and makes the reservation on behalf of the airline, think Orbitz or Travelocity.
Airline Websites: Most airlines have their own website in which customers can search for fares or utilize their mileage to purchase a ticket online.
Which method should you use? ALL
Each type of site has their benefits. The Aggregator can search multiple sites at once as if you were visiting each individual airline website. The Online Travel Agent may be able to offer you a deal on a hotel and/or a car. The Airline Website may have deals specific to mileage members that the Aggregator sites are unable to access. You should check all the various sites, but be quick about it, as other people are looking too, and that low fare you saw could disappear in a matter of minutes. Also, most sites will timeout if left idle for an extended period, which will force you to conduct your search again, and possibly lose the original fare you saw.
If you are flexible on your travel dates, some sites have the ability to display the fares for a few days before and after your preferred date of travel.
If you are loyal to a specific airline, you should still check all the other sites. You may even want to search the Internet for any available coupons for your preferred airline.
Closing TIP: Get all your information ready before starting your search. The last thing you want to do is find a great fare, and then get stuck on the passenger information page because you can’t remember someone’s birthdate or you don’t have their mileage number ready. This may seem like a minor setback, but you could experience a timeout issue or the fare could be sold out in the time it takes you to find that information.
What information do you need?
- First Name
- Middle Name
- Last Name
- Mileage Number – These usually can be added at a later time, but don’t forget or you could lose out on earning some mileage.
- Credit Card
- If traveling Internationally, you’ll need your passport
Ohana means family, and there is no better word to describe Hawaii’s youth soccer community.
Ohana Airlines is not affiliated with any Airline, our goal is to help you find the cheapest airfare for you and your Ohana.