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Old Aug 10, 05, 2:59 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1
Weird website pricing

Curious web design experience lately:

I've generally been very happy with Independence Air. In general, I've found their website to be very effective, and probably the 2nd best-designed website for checking on purchasing flights (behind Southwest). It's light years ahead of USAir, which gives you the impression the hamsters in the back room are very, very tired.

I recently wanted to book a flight on Independence Air. $89 for the first leg. Finished comparison shopping, came back to book it. $139. For each person, meaning the flight was now $100 more expensive than I thought. My initial thought was I had just bumped up against a price change. I put the purchasing aside for a day. The next day, I happened to get an email about sales. I logged back on. $89. Great, I'll book it. Two minutes later, two tickets? $139/each.

I finally managed to figure out, and called in to verify, that only one ticket was left at the $89 price. As soon as two were going to be purchased, both would be $139. This raises a couple of questions...beyond whether this was part of a deliberate plot to drive consumers crazy...
Question #1: If I purchased two tickets, would I get the discounted price on the first...Answer: apparently not, unless I booked one ticket, logged back on, and booked another, while, hopefully, the prices didn't change any further.
Question #2: If I called in, was there any chance they'd give me the lower price on both tickets, as I was now frustrated, and likely to book on another airline?
Answer: No. And supervisors wouldn't be able to do anything either. To the credit of the two people who talked to me on the phone, who very clearly did not speak English as their first language, they listened politely, and then told me there was absolutely nothing they could do.
Question #3: How difficult would it be to program the website so that if there was only one seat left in a particular fare, something more consumer friendly could be done?
Answer: Probably trickier than I think. If you don't show the low price, what if someone only needs one ticket? Where would you draw the line? People buying two? three?
Question #4: What is the likelihood sending an email pointing any of this out gets a response?
Answer: So far, zero. Of course, it's only been three days.
Question #5: Is this griping going to do anything, when Independence Air has bigger issues?
Answer: Probably not.

from my blog; www.joshgreene.com
jgreene1333 is offline  
Old Aug 10, 05, 10:11 pm   #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 1,013
I was travelling to LAS with 5 friends and we all bought our tickets individually because 6 at once was pricing higher. It turned out that 5 tix were left at the cheap fare and only 1 tickey was $30 more. We ended up splitting the extra cost among all of us.

I agree that it would be helpful in sitiuations like this if the price per ticket was broken out i.e. for three tickets one at $89 and two at $189. Airlines can problably get away with just pricing all tickets on an itin at the highest price and people won't notice.
chrisw is offline  
Old Aug 11, 05, 5:23 am   #3
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: IAD
Programs: Gymboree Global Services
Posts: 5,528
All airlines do this, it isn't an Independence Air problem. They had 1 seat left to sell at $89, and if you try to select 2 seats it will price them both at $139. It has nothing to do with web design and everything to do with how inventory management and pricing systems are designed. I've had this happen to me with countless other airlines.
whlinder is offline  
Old Aug 11, 05, 9:03 pm   #4
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: RDU
Programs: TSA/INS/FBI Platinum (stopped last 12 of 13 int'l returns - the computer broke once)
Posts: 2,579
If you care, it's also the exact same backend processing system that JetBlue uses.

Every airline I've run into this problem with (US, WN and AA on top of your description here) does it exactly as you described here. I guess the reasoning is so both tickets have the same fare rules applied, which really doesn't make all that much sense for DH or WN, who don't have any special rules between different fare classes. (DH are never refundable and always a $25 change fee, WN are only refundable if you buy the absolute highest class.) I guess there could be some confusion if you buy multiple tickets on a "big 6" airline and the difference in fare classes meant you could do something with one ticket that you couldn't do with the other. Imagine trying to explain that to the ticketholder over the phone or at the airport why they can do something for two of their tickets but not the other two.

Plus, it just makes the software that prices tickets and displays those prices a lot more complicated. When I see this I split my purchases and make two really quickly, using two different web browsers to get both transactions as close to the end as possible so I can get the tickets I want.
StSebastian is offline  
 

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