a row of seats in an airplane

Money overspent on plane tickets is one less: mojito, souvenir, indulgent meal, I Love New York t-shirt or any of the other things you simply can’t leave a trip without. Don’t overspend on plane tickets. When it comes to purchasing- getting the best deal is sadly, often a lot more complicated than just pressing the number of tickets and entering your card details. Here’s why, and what you can do to save when booking multiple airline tickets. Oh and once you’ve booked, here’s how to make flying economy feel like a breeze.

a view of the wing of an airplaneTickets Are Not As Simple As Economy, Business Or First…

We all know that prices go up and down, and that there are best practices for finding the most ridiculously good deals. Truth be told, things are even more complicated. In economy alone, there are more than 10 “selling classes”, which refer to what type of ticket you’re buying and any rules. The more flexibility- the more expensive. Often, the cheapest tickets only have a limited number of seats on every flight. These have letters like Y, B, M, K, Q, T, U, V and each letter only has a few tickets to be sold in that category. It goes without saying: people want the cheapest ones, but availability is often very limited.

a glass of champagne on a tableSo When People Book Multiple Tickets- They Overpay…

Yeah, rather than just grabbing any available tickets from the cheaper fare bucket (lowest price), and then moving over and grabbing the rest from the more expensive bucket-  the airline or booking site will just grab however many tickets you’d like from the more expensive fare bucket. Rip off! Why not just grab as many low ones as possible? We know why. This can cost upwards of $50 per ticket when booking two or more tickets. When you multiply each ticket, the numbers can really add up. But you can stop this!

a row of seats on an airplaneHere’s What You Do To Save Money And Not Overpay…

ALWAYS, always compare the cost of booking multiple tickets together with the cost of booking each ticket separately. If the flight is nearly empty and many of the cheapest fares are available, the price may be the same. If not- you’ll know you saved yourself some tragic tourist t-shirt or cocktail money! We all love to be tragic tourists from time to time, and money in the pocket is never a bad thing! Long story short: never book two or more tickets together without checking to see if a lower fare is only available for one. ExpertFlyer is gold for researching this!

a sign with arrows and directionsFinal Thought Regarding Airline Credit Cards And Elite Status…

One of the most lucrative benefits of holding (many but not all) airline credit cards is the free checked bag for the cardholder and anyone on their reservation. Essentially, if you have a card where you receive this benefit, it’s important to consider the potential ticket savings versus the savings on checked bags you may miss out on, by being on separate reservations. Similarly, if you have someone with top elite status booking tickets, it may be worth staying on their reservation in the event of weather or need to rebook. Just a thought.

FYI, in many cases, you can ask to merge onto one PNR (reservation confirmation) or if you book together, you can always ask to split PNR’s so you can make changes/upgrades separately. 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This is not a smart approach in many cases since it would require creating separate PNR’s for each passenger. So if the lead passenger gets free checked bags or possibly an upgrade the other Passengers don’t. Then you consider the hassle if you have to make changes which further complicates things so I would suggest that you not follow this advice as a regular course of business.

    BTW – I’ve been in the travel industry my whole adult life 40+ years and I still work in IT for a major business travel management company.

    1. I totally disagree. I’ll explain why.

      1) I lay out that free checked bags are a consideration, so if you’d be losing out on those- you need to crunch numbers.
      2) Making changes there would be virtually no difference being on different PNR’s. Each change would be subject to selling class availability, and in the event you only needed to change one ticket (and not all three) it could actually SAVE you a fortune being on separate PNRs.
      3) You can always ask to be merged onto one PNR after booking, just like you can split a PNR after booking.

      Happy to hear any counter arguments, but upgrades (hardly a realistic consideration) and checked bags aside, I think separate PNR’s actually make life a lot easier. Thanks for contributing to the dialog. I think this kind of discussion is helpful for others reading the comments section.

  2. I have experienced Airlines offering to “cross-reference” different PNRs by linking or putting notes in the record to note that they are for the same travel group. I have not experienced phone reps offer to combine them into a single PNR.

    Do you know what airline does that? or what’s the magic word to say to request it?

  3. I bet the 1st guy did not read the last section about elite perks, or he us trying to avoid getting upgraded while his boss didn’t .

    There is no clear cut winner, if so it would have been plugged up like many things in life. The best case scenario at the time booking may ended up being a kick in the butt if late changes are required.

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