9.30.2016

Cheap airfare. Or the time I bought the same flight 3 times

Hi all and Happy Fall. I recently had an odd experience purchasing airfare and wanted to tell the world about it. To....

  1. Help you to learn from my odd adventure
  2. Maybe have someone tell me some better tips for purchasing airfare

The background is that I needed to buy six flights to New Orleans in February. I was using the flight feature in Google to see some prices and finally decided to buy. There are probably multiple ways to use the flight feature in google, but to find flights I just enter the departing and arrivng airport code (example = LAX to JFK) and when the google search comes up one of the first options is to enter dates of your trip and see more flight from google. Once you see your flight options, you can then pick what you want and then book with that airline carrier. A few notes about this. First, you have to visit Southwest Airlines sepearatly as those prices do not show up in Google. Second, I have been using sites like Kayak and Expedia for years to purchase flights. The prices were simular enough on this adventure, but I wonder if I would have had as much headache. I guess I will have to test that out next time...

 

So there I am, about to purchase a flight on American. Potential problem #1: When I was first looking for flights I was only looking for one passenger to see the price. When a good price came up, I decided to purchase six tickets. I went to American Airlines and purchased six tickets. When I divided the price by six each ticket cost $115 more dollars than the price I had seen on Google! I immediately called American and and was NOT helped by customer service when I was told that only a certain number of tickets were sold at the price I had seen and when I increased the number of tickets I needed to buy, I had been bumped to the higher priced tickets as they had six of those available. I asked why at least some of the available cheaper tickets had not been purchased with my order there was not a good reply. I was told I had 24 hours to cancel my tickets for a full refund and my airfare game began.

 

Early the next morning I was back on google flights and my cheaper price was back! I went to the American Airlines website and tried to cancel one of the flights. I didn't realize this until later, but I ended up canceling all the flights because we were all on the same confirmation code. I then started buying cheaper flights for each person. That morning I purchased three flights and that afternoon, three more. Not all of the flights were the cheaper cost, but they were less then they had been, so I purchased them. Now we all had separate flights and separate confirmation codes.

 

Canceling a flight and getting a refund for that flight are two different things. First you have to cancel a flight and then you have to go through the website and submit a form to see if you qualify for a refund. For each individual ticket, even if you were originally all on the same confirmation code, you have to do this process. This was round one of the cancel / refund process.

 

That evening I was back on Google Flights and the cheaper flights were back! And the American website was having trouble because I couldn't cancel a flight on it any more. I also found going back through my email confirmations that I had tried to purchase a new ticket for someone in the group (for a cheaper price) but the computer (or big brother) had seen they already had a ticket so the ticket they sold me again (charged again) was for the same more expensive cost! What the hey! No! What is this crazziness? So I called American (again) and cancelled two flights over the phone and was able to purchase two more cheaper flights. Then I did the refund dance again.

 

Six hours later cheaper prices are showing up again. Called American again, cancelled two more tickets, repurchased tickets, did the refund dance, went to bed.

 

About this time three of us have tickets at the original price I tried to purchase them at. Three are higher. I wake up early in the morning and look at that..... the cheaper price is back!!!!! By this time I have talked to a lot of customer service people at American. I even bought a ticket through one of them when the website was down before I realized there was a $25 fee (per ticket) when you purchase with American via phone. On each of these phone calls I asked the prices of availble tickets and they would tell me that only one ticket was availble at the price I was looking at the next thicket would cost XXXX more. And I understand airfare is a floating numbers game, but come on! Really.

 

So I am back at it and call, cancel one flight, purchase the cheaper price, do the refund dance, going running and come back to AN EVEN CHEAPER FLIGHT!!!!!!

 

For real.

What the heck?

 

Immediatly call, cancel, repurchase, refund request. And call it done.

 

It was nuts. It consummed me. And in hindsight made me think I should try Kayak again. Also, the refund request could take up to seven days so I had thousands of dollars unavailable to me. You know for twelve flights! I actually think it was for fourteen flights because two of the people I had to purchase flights for four times. Not to mention that all of a sudden flights started showing up in my email that I had tried to purchase but had not gone through, and all of a suddent they did go through and five of the six people were booked on the flight twice. Called customer service AGAIN to cancel those flights and make sure the other flights were booked.

 

And when everything had settled out for a few days and all refund requests had been submitted and each person only had one flight, I called customer service again to see if we could sit next to each other and to try to link, or make a note that we were all traveling together. Fingers crossed that the flight works out.

 

And that is the story of how I bought the same flight 3 or 4 times. Do you have any tips about buying airfare? Have you experinced this before? Do you have an airline you love with excellent customer service? Do tell. Because my days of being the travel agent -booking everyone's flights are limited...

 

 

2 comments:

  1. WOW! What a crazy story. It sounds like all this extra work may not have been worth the savings... everyone better thank you for all this hard work. Ha. No advice. I usually just travel on Southwest or Hawaiian Airlines because... it is easy.

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    Replies
    1. Me too, but Southwest was really expensive for this flight and did not have good flight times. I had the best ice cream sandwich on Hawaiian Airlines once...

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