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The major U.S. Domestic carriers recently announced a minor modification in their tariffs, an update to the CAT10 fare rule. In airline speak:  









So what does this mean for you as the traveler? Airlines will no longer allow many one way fares to be combined on a single ticket - even with the same airline. In order to get the lowest fare, individual flights may need to be booked on a completely new reservation, OR as an alternative you can combine fares in one reservation but at a significantly higher price. Here are a few recent client bookings to use as an example:


Atlanta to El Paso, Denver to Duluth, Duluth to Atlanta


Delta.com price    $2512.20 - change penalty starting at $200
Expedia.com price $2512.20 - change penalty starting at $200

Avenue Travel price  $837.30  - change penalty starting at $600


Washington Dulles to Jacksonville, Jacksonville to Atlanta, Atlanta to Washington Dulles


Google flight search price $1460.00 - change penalty starting at $200

Expedia.com price $1466.70 - change penalty starting at $200
Avenue Travel price $448.30 - change penalty starting at $400


Kansas City to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Phoenix, Phoenix to Kansas City


Google flight search price $1472.30 - change penalty starting at $200

Expedia.com price $1478.70 - change penalty starting at $200
Avenue Travel price $654.30 - change penalty starting at $600





As you can see, the airline is going to gouge travelers on either the total fare or multiple change fees. The online booking sites, including our own self booking tool Concur, are unable to separate the ticketing and will quote the higher fares. If you are booking your own travel, the only way to see if the fare is effected is to book your flights as a single itinerary, and then book the various combinations. For the second example above, in order to find the lowest fare you would have to price your flight as :


 


















Here is a fare diagram and explanation United Airlines sent us to clarify their fare logic:

















“Sum of sector pricing is when multiple fare types are combined in order to price a fare lower than the available path (O&D) fare. Under the new combinability rules, this ticketing behavior is more restricted. An example of sum of sector pricing is below in black, while the path fares are in blue.”


Confused? That is exactly what the airlines are hoping, your confusion results in higher profits for them. These are not at all unusual situations, we are currently experiencing between 10 and 15 instances a day of these inflated fares. For more information, read the press release from ASTA here.















 

We have been doing this for years, and it is confusing even to us. Needless to say, this is a major aggravation if you are booking our own travel, but if you don’t do this you could potentially cost yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a single trip. Although we may have to issue separate tickets for a single trip, please be assured we will continue to only charge a single agency fee for the entire itinerary.


How a seemingly innocent airline rule change may cost you thousands

“We restricted end-on-end combinations of non-refundable fares. These discounted local fares were sometimes pieced together to generate a connecting itinerary priced below the intended fare for that origin and destination. We’ve always intended to price our fares based on the passenger’s origin and the final intended destination. We changed fare and ticketing policies to ensure various fares are used in this way on multiple-segment itineraries. Combinability restrictions prevent "sum of sector" pricing of multi-city itineraries.”

One ticket

Ticket 1

IAD-JAX, JAX-ATL, ATL-IAD

Two tickets

Ticket 1

IAD-JAX, JAX-ATL

Ticket 2

ATL-IAD

Two tickets

Ticket 1

IAD-JAX, ATL-IAD

Ticket 2

JAX-ATL

Two tickets

Ticket 1

IAD-JAX

Ticket 2

JAX-ATL, ATL-IAD

Two tickets

Ticket 1

JAX- ATL

Ticket 2

IAD-JAX, ATL-IAD

Three tickets

Ticket 1

IAD-JAX

Ticket 2

JAX-ATL

Ticket 3

ATL-IAD