How to Get the Best Deal on Group Flights
Keep your budget and your travel companions happy when booking group flights.
Coordinating travel for a large group can mean jumping through plenty of hoops. Know the ins and outs of travel booking and ensure your group trip is a crowd pleaser rather than a budget buster.
Numbers to know
When it comes to group travel, 10 is the magic number.
Groups of 10 or more will qualify for group travel rates on most major carriers including United, American, Southwest and JetBlue. Delta offers group travel services to parties of nine or more.
But just because you go through an airline’s group travel service, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the lowest price. While airlines may offer special incentives for group travel like free name changes, low deposits and access to a group coordinator, you may not always receive the best fare.
Not all airlines guarantee savings and discounts to group travelers but booking large blocks of tickets through an airline’s group travel service still has its perks.
JetBlue offers a customized quote on your group fare with deposits as low as $50 per person and full payment due 60 days in advance for international travel and 30 days for domestic.
American Airlines will extend a guaranteed fare to groups of 10 or more and allow you to book up to 11 months in advance and change names on tickets up to 48 hours before departure.
Standing out from the crowd, Southwest seems to offer the best amenities for group travel. Offering groups of 10 or more special discounts and flexible payment options. Group booking also helps avoid pesky booking, ticketing and change fees and your group won’t have to worry about blackout dates or Saturday night or minimum stay requirements.
United Airlines also rolls out the red carpet for group travelers with a dedicated group coordinator to assist you at the airport as well as priority check-in, special pricing and a guaranteed rate.
Policies and perks vary by airline, so be sure to do your research to find the airline that works best for you and will provide the best deal or value for your money.
Flying with a few
Don’t fret if your travel party is just shy of the airline group travel minimums. By separating the group and purchasing individual tickets, you may save more in the long run.
Airline pricing is based on supply and demand. Just as fares are more expensive during peak travel periods, prices during non-peak travel will skyrocket when seats start filling up on a flight. Airlines often designate seat allotments by price point. So, even working with the airline by phone to book flights for multiple passengers will not guarantee that all fares will be the same price. Coordinate your purchase timing to try to avoid large price swings. And, if possible, break your group down into smaller chunks and book seats for only a few people at a time to get the best rate.
As flight prices can vary wildly based on several factors – most of which are out of your control – comparison shopping for flights often is a difficult game to win. Yet, with group travel multiplying either your savings or your excess costs by each traveler, researching all purchasing options will be time well spent.