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Pricing Discrepancy Between Orbitz/ITN and nwa.com [Merged Threads]

Pricing Discrepancy Between Orbitz/ITN and nwa.com [Merged Threads]

 
Old May 26, 07, 1:54 am
  #1  
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Pricing Discrepancy Between Orbitz/ITN and nwa.com [Merged Threads]

Hello everyone. I was deliberating on whether or not the mileage run discussion forum was more appropriate for this question...but I decided to post this here b/c it was...I guess...a NW problem.

I've been using ITA software for several years to book multi-city "detours" to destinations I would normally go to maximize earning miles.

I'm trying to LAX from either MKE or ORD and I'm trying to connect two times before arriving at my final destination.

Here is a sample flight I was thinking:

Northwest Airlines Flight NW189 on a Boeing 757 (jet) in coach class
Departs Milwaukee, WI (MKE) Fri, June 15 6:30a 1 hr 18 min
Arrives Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN (MSP) 7:48a

Northwest Airlines Flight NW752 on a DC-9 (jet) in coach class
Departs Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN (MSP) Fri, June 15 8:49a 1 hr 43 min
Arrives Detroit, MI (DTW) 11:32a

Northwest Airlines Flight NW327 on a Boeing 757 (jet) in coach class
(food for purchase)
Departs Detroit, MI (DTW) Fri, June 15 12:04p 4 hrs 42 min
Arrives Los Angeles, CA (LAX) 1:46p



Los Angeles, CA to Milwaukee, WI: 2796 miles 9 hrs 17 min

Northwest Airlines Flight NW336 on a Boeing 757 (jet) in coach class

Departs Los Angeles, CA (LAX) Sun, June 17 12:10a 4 hrs 31 min
Arrives Detroit, MI (DTW) 7:41a

Northwest Airlines Flight NW763 on an Airbus A319 (jet) in coach class
Departs Detroit, MI (DTW) Sun, June 17 8:44a 1 hr 46 min
Arrives Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN (MSP) 9:30a

Northwest Airlines Flight NW789 on a DC-9 (jet) in coach class
Departs Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN (MSP) Sun, June 17 10:20a 1 hr 7 min
Arrives Milwaukee, WI (MKE) 11:27a


This prices out at ~$300 on ITA. If i try to find this same itinerary on NW the pricing jumps several hundred bucks. I know ITA shows some discrepancies between the actual fares and their fares at times so I decided to test other dates (even months later) and I tried changing the destinations as well. What I found was that all of my itineraries were being priced at least 200$+ than what Ita was reporting. Can anyone tell me what is going on here????? I've never had such problems on Ita before. If it's some specific rule I would like to know what it is so I can find a way around it...thanks in advance.
jesoonster is offline  
Old May 26, 07, 10:22 am
  #2  
 
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I don't have an answer, only a comment that the problem may be with nwa.com, not ITA. I occasionally try to maximize segments/miles on trips I would be taking anyway, but recently I'm finding that a trip I build using the multi-city tool then errors out when it tries to price it. In some cases, it's balking at itineraries identical to ones I did earlier this year.
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Old May 26, 07, 10:44 am
  #3  
 
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From my experience the problem is with NW, not ITA. The same thing has happened to me, and I just get on the phone armed with the fare codes and it works like a champ.

I have found NW website is pretty good overall offering a second connection hub-to-hub. It is not very good about listing all options. Try doing a north-south connection through MEM. MEM as a connecxtion choice will not always come up if you use the booking engine on the front page even though the flight time is faster and cheaper, and often will only come up if you pick your flights seperately and choose to return up to 50 flights. Why? Who knows. Use the phone.
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Old May 26, 07, 11:31 am
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No, it's ITA's problem

Despite the previous two posts, I strongly suspect the problem is with ITA. The problem appears to be that ITA doesn't handle NW's married segment availability very well.

To get a fare of about $304 all-in for those flights (not currently available for the exact flights you mentioned even on ITA, but you can get other flights on the same day for $304), you must be using the T14RV3N fare. As far as I can tell, ITA searches for flights valid for this fare by looking for valid routings (from the fare rules) with T class available on all segments. There is separately (in your example) T class available on all of NW189, NW 752, and NW327 on June 15, so ITA thinks this is valid.

On the other hand, my guess is that nwa doesn't make the T fare available because it's using some kind of married segment logic. That is, there is no T availability for the combination of NW189, NW752, and NW327 sold as a combined routing. However, I don't know how to verify this for a three-segment itinerary using a free tool. (seatcounter only shows one-stop connections).

However, an example where you can see that married segment availability can be a problem for ita is for my personal favorite route, ROC-IAH. On 11/20, ita reports that there is T class available on NW 839 ROC-DTW and NW 1633 DTW-IAH, and therefore tells you the relevant T fare, TR7P5N, can be sold for that connection. The problem is that actually there is T availability on each segment sold separately (so ROC-DTW passengers can buy a T fare, and DTW-IAH passengers can buy a T fare), but connecting passengers only see availability in L and above. You can check seatcounter to see this.

I've sent a message to ita asking them to fix this but it's clearly pretty low on the list of priorities.

You don't run into it on some other airlines because they use different fare buckets for connecting traffic: eg, on CO, the cheapest buckets are Q, I, S, W, T, X, and L. Q, S, T, and L are for connecting traffic only, and I, W and X are for nonstop traffic only. This system is obviously easier for ita to track: it doesn't have to track availability for every possible city pairing, just every sector CO actually flies (so to know availability on CO for ROC-IAH, I just need to know the availability on ROC-CLE, CLE-IAH, ROC-EWR, and EWR-IAH). For NW availability, ita would actually need to know the availability on ROC-IAH despite the fact that NW doesn't actually fly that sector direct. If there are 300 airports in the US, NW's system would therefore require ITA to query availability for 300*299 = 89700 city pairs, while CO's allows them to query only around 300*6 = 1800 (each way to and from three hubs). I could see why, if ita has to pay for each query, it might not be doing a great job with NW's availability here.

You can see it's ita's problem because Orbitz, who use ita's data for initial price displays, initially do show the ita price. If you select it, it'll tell you 'the price changed'. What happened is when you try to buy, Orbitz actually checks with a GDS (or with NW directly, I'm not sure) what the fare is. And at this point the price becomes the same as on nwa.com.

Now, this system is kind of obscure, so you might be able to get somebody who doesn't understand it to price you the T fare manually. If the computer doesn't object, you may get away with it. If you find out how to do this, I'd appreciate hearing about it (by PM, since this would be a valuable loophole and shouldn't really be publicized if it exists.)
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Old May 26, 07, 11:36 am
  #5  
 
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Indeed, ITA is really bad about married segment logic, and NW uses a lot of that logic in pricing. Often times, though, you are able to get what ITA displays over on Orbitz, but that's because Orbitz is looser on the married trip logic.

...which is all very odd since res.nwa.com is actually Orbitz's booking engine...

So the moral of the story is to try all booking engines and do not take ITA results as gospel.
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Old May 26, 07, 12:41 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by yellow77 View Post
Despite the previous two posts, I strongly suspect the problem is with ITA. The problem appears to be that ITA doesn't handle NW's married segment availability very well.
It's a more general problem with ITA, not limited to NW. The same thing happens with DL flights.
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Old May 26, 07, 10:53 pm
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So, what would explain my experience of ITA fares not available on nwa.com, but available if you call and book using the ITA farae codes? It has always puzzled me.
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Old May 26, 07, 11:47 pm
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I posted a few weeks ago about the exact same thing with ITA/NWA.

ITA pulls up fares YYC-XXX-YYC with availability booking into K/T/V/any class on NWA, but when you go onto the NW site to book, the fares are much higher.

What is even more bizarre is how NWA assigns seats into fare buckets. For instance, take this example:

YYC-MSP 0800 departure. YYC-MSP shows no K class seat inventory. But if you price it up YYC-MSP-DAY or STL leaving on that same 0800 departure YYC-MSP, K class inventory miraculously appears!

Even when you use the seat availability tools out there - same thing. K/T/V etc. fare class not available on point to point, but does show available on that same point to point sector when availability query extends to a third city.

The long and short of it is that NWA site seems buggy, and unpredictable. I kid you not when I tell you that I've put in the EXACT same search parameters (routing, date, times, class of travel etc.) and run a best fare search on NWA.com and I get different 'best fares' every time I run the search - 3 different fares within 2 minutes of researching.
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Old May 27, 07, 5:11 pm
  #9  
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Berra, I did call in to confirm at least 2 of my "searched" flights. Apparently, the pricing is the same as what I see on the NWA site.

To confirm others' posts....I too confirmed availability of T and K class fares on all of my segments, but when I book them together it becomes a B, H, or M which drives the price up by at least 2X. It definiltely seems to be a marriage segment issue like yellow suggested.


So .....I know this is frowned upon on this forum..but I really don't have anyone to turn to...can ANYONE then offer up a suggestion on a route that I can use that would utilize 2 stops while going from ORD/MKE-->LAX? taht would circumvent this marriage segment rule? (preferrably keep price down under 360$)

I used to do ord-mem-dtw-lax and back (which nets little over 6k), and I was really happy when I thought I found another route ord-cvg-dtw-lax and back...

Using 2 stops it appears to me that the only way available for a 300$ish fare is ord-dtw-msp-lax.....which nets around 5k. does ANYONE have any suggestions for other routes?
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Old May 27, 07, 6:01 pm
  #10  
 
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When ITA pricing is better than NWA, sometimes it works if I do a multi-city with each segment called out separately on NWA.

For example, the first of these might get better pricing than the second:

DTW-PHL
PHL-MEM
MEM-MSP
MSP-LAX
LAX-DTW

vs.
DTW-PHL
PHL-MEM
MEM-MSP-LAX
LAX-DTW
emoney1978 is offline  
Old May 30, 07, 8:54 pm
  #11  
 
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What's wrong with nwa.com

I found a fare from LGA-TLH rountrip departing 7/6 returning 7/22 both on ita and orbitz for around $210. The cheapest I can find on nwa.com is around $350. What is going on here?
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Old May 30, 07, 9:06 pm
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might have something to do with this... http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=697274
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Old May 30, 07, 9:10 pm
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Sounds like an opportunity to earn some best fare guarantee vouchers.
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Old May 30, 07, 9:14 pm
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If you can book it at ITA or Orbitz for the price you find, then you are in big, big, unheretofore experienced luck. But chances are that the NWA.com fare is the only thing that is really available, and you can keep getting kicked over screen after screen on Orbitz while they tell you that the fare is "no longer available" until they match exactly what is available at NWA.com.

If you want to screw around with bogus listings at Orbitz, et. al., it is very tempting, but if you genuinely want to fly NW and want to see what is ACTUALLY bookable, you may as well just go to NWA.com and see what you will get if you keep getting cycled through the Orbitz "no longer available" screens.
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Old May 31, 07, 1:38 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by SpinzCity View Post

If you want to screw around with bogus listings at Orbitz, et. al., it is very tempting, but if you genuinely want to fly NW and want to see what is ACTUALLY bookable, you may as well just go to NWA.com and see what you will get if you keep getting cycled through the Orbitz "no longer available" screens.
agreed. about the only thing Orbitz is good for is seeing what kind of aircraft the flights use, vs having to drill down for that info on nwa.com.

BOTH nwa.com and Orbitz log you out of your sessions way too quickly IMHO.
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