Booking Flights as a Group: What’s the Best Way to Save?

Bangkok airport empty2

Finding the best price for a large group is usually not that easy, because if you simply enter the total number of travellers, you will often see an inflated price. Here we show you how you can prevent this.

The availability of flights is arranged in booking classes. Each booking class corresponds to a price. If a booking class is fully booked, subsequent bookings will be issued in the next booking class, thus costing a higher price.

The Problem: Flights Are More Expensive Than Necessary

You can see how this looks in the example below. The Lufthansa flight still has 3 seats in booking class “K”, which costs €89.49 on the Amsterdam (AMS) – Munich (MUC) route. If you are searching for up to 3 travellers, you will see this price per person.

Up to 3 people will pay €89.49

However, if you are now travelling with 4 or more people, there is a problem: that many seats are no longer available in booking class “K”. So the system automatically books you into the next booking class with the corresponding availability. If you are looking for 4 people, you will not be shown at all that a cheaper price would be available.

Now everyone would pay €96.49

So each person in your group pays the higher price of €96.49, although the cheaper rate of €89.49 would still be available 3 times. For a group of 4 people, you’d be paying a total of €21 more than necessary.

The Solution: Split Flights

Luckily, you can easily circumvent the problem by splitting the booking. So you’d first book the maximum possible number of people at a lower price.

Price for the first 3 passengers

You’d then book another seat at a higher price.

Now only one passenger is paying the higher price

So in total, you’d pay €268.47 + €96.49 = €364.96 instead of €385.96 in a single transaction.

How Do I Find Out How Many Seats Are Still Available in a Booking Class?

There are a few ways to do this:

On the Airline’s Website

Many airlines show the maximum number of seats still available in a booking class on their website, such as Lufthansa in our example above. While it’s often cheaper to book through sites like Momondo, it’s worth checking the airline’s website for availability beforehand.

Etihad is one of the many airlines that show you how often the price is still available

Expertflyer

A real professional tool is Expertflyer. There you can see the availability of the respective booking classes for all flights. However, as using Expertflyer is subject to a fee, you’d have to pay between €4.50 and €9 per month for access.

Expertflyer Buchungsklassen
Available booking classes on Frankfurt/Main – Rome

In addition to the booking class search, Expertflyer offers many other features, such as searching for award availability and displaying seat maps. If you want to test the tool, you can secure 5-day free access here.

Trial and Error

The simplest but also the most time-consuming method: Just try it out. Increase the number of people until the price per person changes. Then you have exceeded the availability of the cheapest booking class.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, there are a few small disadvantages if you proceed as described in the article. On the one hand, of course, you have the risk that in the short period of time between your bookings someone will snatch your seats in the next booking class, and you will consequently have to shell out the price for an even higher booking class. However, this risk is rather low, especially for long-term bookings.

Another disadvantage is that you cannot use your status benefits (should you have some) for everyone. This does not apply to lounge access and priority check-in, but it does apply to e.g. free seat reservations.

And ultimately, everyone is on their own when there is a rebooking due to irregularities such as cancelled flights. If you are booked on one booking, you are guaranteed to all be booked on the same alternative flight. This is not guaranteed for different bookings.

Larger Groups (10+ People)

The maximum number of seats in a booking class is 9. However, this does not necessarily mean that a price only exists 9 times. The common booking systems just do not allow more places to be displayed. So if you are travelling with more than 9 people, it makes sense to contact the airline or a travel agency directly. Lufthansa has a form for this on its website. However, you should not expect to get a better price. Group bookings are usually more expensive than putting people on the plane over several bookings.

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