Airline Seat PricingLearn how airlines set the price of their seats.

I have had many discussions with clients to explain how airlines set their pricing, why prices go up and down daily (aside for airlines raising rates) and why the price for one ticket is lower than when you price it for four. Why not put this information online for all?

Airline Ticket "Class" Explained

Let me make it clear upfront, ticket "class" has nothing to do with the actual seats on a plane with the exception of First/Business Class and Coach. There are several ticket classes for each section.

When booking your airline ticket you'll often hear the ticket agent talk about the ticket "class", an industry term which applies a set of rules and restrictions to your particular ticket. Classes often restrict whether you can upgrade using your frequent flier miles or whether or not you can cancel your ticket for a full refund. These perks often cost more which means your ticket is more expensive, your seat however is the same as the person sitting next to you.

Airfare Seat Pricing and Ticketing Class Explained.

Airline Ticket Pricing Explained

If you are the first person making a reservation on a particular flight you will receive the lowest-priced ticket and the class with the most restrictions - non-refundable, non-changeable, non-upgradable, etc. As the plane begins to fill up the lower-priced classes of tickets sell out leaving you no alternative but to purchase the more expensive class. As you near the departure date you will notice the costs are extremely high due to the most expensive class of tickets remaining.

Why Did Airfare Price Go Down?

The most frustrating part of selling airfare, or booking my own for that matter, is the fact that airfare can go down in price. This typically happens if someone cancels a ticket and a lower-priced class is now available for purchase again... it could only be one seat or it could be a group of seats. Groups which cancel also open up a block of seats which may be lower in price if the plane is reasonably full. Airlines can also put a class of tickets on sale.

Why Is One Ticket Less Than Purchasing Three Tickets?

I have often started my vacation pricing by pricing one ticket just to give me an idea of the per-person cost. When I go to purchase the tickets the price mysteriously increases by $50 or more per person -- but why? This all goes back to the ticket class which relates to price and restrictions. There may be one Q-Class ticket available at $450 but when I go to search for 4 tickets it jumps to the next class, say Y-Class, for $500 per person. When purchasing tickets for clients, I will split a class (purchase one in Q and 2 in Y) to obtain the lower rate and then spread the rate over the entire booking -- why not take advantage of it since I have access to do that?