Three of the largest airlines have changed their rules for multi-city tickets in a way that may prove costly to travelers.
American, Delta and United no longer allow passengers to combine individual nonrefundable tickets, the Associated Press reports.
The change does not affect standard round-trip flights, but it has effectively forced higher prices on some travelers who make stops in multiple cities on one trip, especially business travelers.
According to the AP, the change stems from the three airlines starting to match low-cost airlines like Spirit.
Some fliers have realized that multi-city tickets — which contain several one-way flights under the same reservation — can be cheaper than one connecting ticket. Here is one of the AP’s examples:
For instance, flying American one-way from New Orleans to Los Angeles with a connection in Dallas might cost $289. But breaking those two legs up into a multi-city ticket would cost $79 for the first leg and $94 for the second, for a savings of $116.
But the AP reports that the airlines are now curbing that practice:
To halt that practice, American, Delta and United stopped allowing individual nonrefundable tickets to be combined. Their websites now only offer fully refundable tickets when combining one-way legs, which are often several times more expensive than the non-refundable tickets most people buy.
So to get the best prices now, fliers stopping at multiple cities need to book several individual tickets. However, the AP reports many travelers may not know there is a way around the new rules.
Some travelers who book multi-city tickets are now paying as much as seven times more, according to Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition.
Mitchell wrote in a recent complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice:
We have a concern that American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines may have recently coordinated on a complicated and comprehensive scheme to change airfare rules.
Mitchell’s complaint asks the DOJ to “include this potential illegal coordination with your investigation into collusion by these airlines.”
Have you used multi-city tickets to save on airfare the past? What’s your take on this change? Let us know below or on Facebook.