About a week ago, I noticed this on my Facebook feed from Steve H.,
I have just outsmarted American Airlines and saved myself $1000 in the process.
I have to go [Syracuse – Washington DC – Indianapolis – Austin – Syracuse] over a two week period in late May and early June.
Pricing it as one intinerary could be done for no cheaper than $2174 according to American, and no other airline was cheaper. After trying a couple of other strategies, I found the winner:
Buy the [Indianapolis – Austin] as a roundtrip from [Indianapolis] buy [Syracuse – Washington National], [Washington National – Indianapolis], and [Indianapolis – Syracus] as three one-way tickets.
Thanks to my willingness to arrive in Syracuse very late on my return, the total for this strategy was $1145, saving me $1000.
This is a pretty complicated example of something, but since he tagged me in the post I replied, that the “cheapest one-way for one of these segments did not allow ‘end-on-end’ ticketing the fare rules, causing you to pay a higher fare when combining it with other flights”
Increasingly American Airlines has been imposing a new rule in its fares to make your tickets more expensive.
It used to be that if two one-way fares, say San Diego to Dallas and Dallas to Fort Lauderdale, were cheaper than the fare for San Diego to Fort Lauderdale you’d pay the cheaper ‘sum of the two one ways’ for your ticket.
Now for many of the cheapest fares in many markets American has updated their fare rules to prohibit “End of End Ticketing” which means you cannot combine the cheap fares, you have to pay the more expensive fare.
Let’s take a simple example from my home town where the savings aren’t going to be as great but the phenomenon is easy to see.
If I book a one-way ticket Chicago – Austin connecting in Dallas, the price comes up at $181.60.
But if I book two separate one-ways, Chicago – Dallas and Dallas – Austin, it’s cheaper.
Chicago – Dallas is just $35.10.
Dallas – Austin is $109.10.
That’s a total of $144.20, or a savings of $37.40 or ~ 20%.
Here’s a more dramatic example. Here’s Austin – Chicago, two days later Chicago – Dallas, then two days later back to Austin. The cheapest fare for this itinerary using American’s non-stops between each city is $1058 on the days I picked at random.
Purchased separately, however:
- Austin – Chicago non-stops range from $117 – $170
- Chicago – Dallas non-stops range from $74 – $184
- Dallas – Austin non-stops range from $80 – $155
Ticketing separate one-ways you’re looking at prices between $271 (a savings of $787) to $509 (a savings of $549).
When you’re booking a multi-city trip, it’s obvious how you can take advantage of this. You definitely want to compare the cost of buying one-way tickets to the cost of buying a multi-city ticket. Just buying one ways means big savings here.
But let’s say all you’re buying is that one-way ticket from Chicago to Austin. How do you pocket the $37 savings off that $181.60 one-way?
Again you buy two one-way tickets.
Here’s two key things to know.
- When you are traveling on separate American Airlines tickets, you can still check your bags to their final destination. You just need to show the agent details of your connecting flight that’s on a separate ticket.
- When you are traveling on separate American Airlines tickets, the airline will treat it as though it was a single ticket in the event of irregular operations. If your first flight is delayed, and you miss your connection, you’re protected.
This second one is unique and surprising to many people. Not even all American agents know about this. But that’s the policy.
Policy retrieved March 30, 8:30am Eastern
American publishes super cheap fares to compete with ultra low cost carriers like Spirit Airlines. But they only want to use those fares to compete with Spirit, not to undercut their pricing in other markets. So they’ve tightened their fare rules. But you can still circumvent that by booking separate tickets. It’s worth comparing price.