Booking a Flight for the Family? Read This First

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Planning a family vacation is stressful enough without having to worry about paying out the nose for plane tickets to your vacation destination.

If you’re buying airline tickets for your family, you need to have a basic understanding of how airlines price and sell their tickets, says travel planning website FareCompare.

If you need to book tickets for two or more passengers, you could be in for a costly surprise. That cheap airfare quote you got online might jump up if you’re purchasing multiple tickets. Sometimes just one or two seats are available at a certain rate. FareCompare said:

If the cheapest price point has one seat less than the requested number of passengers, it bumps everyone up to the next price level that has enough seats. If the next price level doesn’t have enough seats to fulfill your ticket request, it will then bump you up to the next highest level.

This means that even though some of your party could actually fly at a cheaper price, you won’t be given that chance.

Don Semier of Cincinnati found out the hard way that booking tickets for four people isn’t easy or cheap, said WCPO 9. Semier found airline tickets online for a family vacation to Montana. The tickets were priced at $708 each. His wife tried to book the tickets at that price. “When she went to book it, she put in the four tickets, and it came back $789per ticket,” Semier said. Ouch.

Semier said just three of the four seats the family tried to book were available at the lower price.

FareCompare has a couple of ideas to help make sure you don’t pay a dime more than necessary to fly.

  • Compare quotes. Shop for one passenger first. Compare that price with what you would pay if you booked multiple tickets at once. “Of course, you should also check out multiple sites as well, because at any given moment different sites have different seat inventory and prices,” FareCompare said.
  • Split up. If it looks like booking tickets in multiples is going to cost a significant amount more, you may want to consider booking each ticket separately to help keep airfare costs low.

Tell us about your experience booking plane tickets for the whole family. Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • Bob K

    Cheapoair has lots of Indians to sell tickets, but getting help when they screw up (my family and I had a 3 leg flight to Brazil and one section/leg disappeared) is nearly impossible. After ~10 days and over 42 phone calls, I finally had someone contact me to fix it. It was a complete and total pain to deal with these characters. Never, ever again, will I call them for so much as “the correct time”. In addition to that problem, their tickets never accumulate frequent flyer miles and they charge extra (the extra $150 went directly in their pocket in addition to the normal percentage, since I saw the receipt for the ticket for the money the airline received) for getting another ticket that matched the one my family had.