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Same flight date, searched simultaneously, same fare class, 2 prices?

Same flight date, searched simultaneously, same fare class, 2 prices?

Old Dec 13, 13, 6:32 am
  #1  
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Same flight date, searched simultaneously, same fare class, 2 prices?

Here is a great data point on the "dynamic" pricing United uses.

I have been looking for a decent fare EWR- LAS for New Years for me and my family- fares have been high (yes, it's a holiday, I understand)

Got a promo email from United crowing about "Las Vegas is looking for you" etc etc.

Clicked the link on the promo email and found a $535 fare (pretty good for those dates.

I then opened up another window of United.com and searched other airports/dates to see if there might be some even better options. To my amazement, I happened to see the EXACT same flight, SAME fare class (searching simultaneously) was $64 more when just doing a regular search.

I understand special fare classes and promos, but have never seen the SAME FARE CLASS for the identical flight being offered at different prices. Is this a new tidbit of SHARES or is this normal?

The whole thing just makes me even more skeptical about United's transparency. Any thoughts or comments? I'd be curious to know if anyone has seen this before?

Screen shots here:



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Old Dec 13, 13, 6:58 am
  #2  
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Are the return dates the same in both searches?
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:07 am
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Looks like you are searching for 1 tkt on 1st window and 4 people on 2nd. Trying making those variables the same. Also, close 1st window, clear cookies, wait 5 min as it is possible (not likely) that the 1st query is temporarily decrementing available inventory.

For any valid study, you should eliminate as many extraneous variables that may corrupt the data in unknown ways.

Last edited by fastair; Dec 13, 13 at 7:19 am
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:10 am
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Cool. If you can prove this, buy the $599 ticket and file a low fare guarantee request; UA will give you $100 ( http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/prod...guarantee.aspx ).

But … when I do a one-way search for a 12/30 EWR-LAS flight I see a $226 option. It looks like you are showing us the round-trip price but you have only shown us that the itinerary is identical on the outbound portion.

I bet that round trips are $599 for 4 pax or $535 for 1 pax, with a T fare on the outbound in both cases and with different fares on the return portion (inventory may be 1,2, or 3 in the cheaper bucket). Can you show us the full trip and fare solution you've found?
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:12 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by kale73 View Post
Are the return dates the same in both searches?
Yes, they are both the same- sorry I wasnt clear about that in the beginning.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Looks like you are searching for 1 tkt on 1st window and 4 people on 2nd. Trying making those variables the same.
This. Odds are that the return doesn't have 4 tickets in the same fare class, and the way that I've seen UA.com work is that if there aren't enough tickets in a fare class for the whole PNR it moves all passengers into the higher fare class.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:19 am
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Originally Posted by vkng View Post
the way that I've seen UA.com work is that if there aren't enough tickets in a fare class for the whole PNR it moves all passengers into the higher fare class.
This is generally how airline reservation systems work. I've never seen a multi-passenger PNR that contains passengers who are on different flights or in different fare classes.

It's true that UA could be a little more user friendly by building multiple PNRs (some in the cheaper fare classes) when you do a multi-passenger search. But this has other consequences because UA offers certain benefits to "companions" on the same PNR.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:20 am
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Originally Posted by vkng View Post
This. Odds are that the return doesn't have 4 tickets in the same fare class, and the way that I've seen UA.com work is that if there aren't enough tickets in a fare class for the whole PNR it moves all passengers into the higher fare class.
I thought that too, until I saw that they were BOTH the same fare class (T) Thats what makes it so odd.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:22 am
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Originally Posted by Yanks08802 View Post
I thought that too, until I saw that they were BOTH the same fare class (T) Thats what makes it so odd.
We have only been shown the outbound portion of a round-trip ticket. The "$599" is the price of the entire journey. It's perfectly plausible that the outbound portion happens to book in the same fare class, making the price differential due to different flight choices // fare choices on the rest of the trip. Show us the entire trip and price.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
This is generally how airline reservation systems work. I've never seen a multi-passenger PNR that contains passengers who are on different flights or in different fare classes.

It's true that UA could be a little more user friendly by building multiple PNRs (some in the cheaper fare classes) when you do a multi-passenger search. But this has other consequences because UA offers certain benefits to "companions" on the same PNR.
True, I didn't mean to single out UA.com, it's just the only place I have experienced the issue. I have seen that itasoftware will price out multiple fares for multiple passengers and give fare instructions, but I don't know how it would have to be booked.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
We have only been shown the outbound portion of a round-trip ticket. The "$599" is the price of the entire journey. It's perfectly plausible that the outbound portion happens to book in the same fare class, making the price differential due to different flight choices // fare choices on the rest of the trip. Show us the entire trip and price.
Just re-did the trip in response so I could post the new image, and the prices are now the same. (Even the same screens I posted before, so really, Im not crazy!)

FWIW, you'll have to go on my word that I did, in fact, select identical returns originally- just got a little lazy when re-creating for posting purposes.

Still odd to me to have different prices on an identical fare class with all flight details identical.

Anyway, thanks for your posts and input!
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Old Dec 13, 13, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by Yanks08802 View Post
FWIW, you'll have to go on my word that I did, in fact, select identical returns originally- just got a little lazy when re-creating for posting purposes.

Still odd to me to have different prices on an identical fare class with all flight details identical.
Should've bought! UA would've given you a sweet $100 e-cert.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 9:53 am
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When you suspect dynamic pricing, you should use matrix.itasoftware.com as the neutral third party entity to give you the *real* price on the flights you want to take, but as mentioned, make sure the variables used for the search is identical between the sites.
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Old Dec 13, 13, 1:01 pm
  #14  
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They're not showing the price for the one direction, they're showing the price for the round trip.

I'd guess it's a difference in the return pricing for 4 people vs 1.

For example: outbound is T both ways, but return is T for 1 and jumps to S or W or something for 4.
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Old Dec 16, 13, 9:30 pm
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I have seen it give me something like "Lowest fare $400" on the outbound, I pick that fare, and on the return screen get "Lowest fare $380", so it could definitely have been a difference on the return. That's one benefit of the old site that showed both outbound and return options on the same screen, you didn't have to deal with that happening.
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