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What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Herndon, Virginia
posts: 2
What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Please be very very careful with Jet Blue when booking a flight. Or better yet don't use them at all until they clean up their act, if they clean up their act. Jet Blue used to be our all time favorite airline until the several hour nightmare they put us through today. We are used to flights going up just because we are investigating them which is disturbing enough as it is, and consumers shouldn't allow ourselves to be treated like this, but what happened tonight was above and beyond. And cost us in addition to a significant amount of money, also several hours. We found our flights and checked both the arrival and the departure flights, filled in the forms with all our personal information and Jet Blue membership numbers, selected our seats and selected American Express and got the final total price of the flight. I put in our Am Ex number and when I hit submit it came back and said the flights were no longer available. So I thought some one had booked our seats while I was waiting for the confirmation after submitting the Am Ex number. But when I went back in to re-book if possible I found plenty of seats left. But at a higher price. So I had to do the entire process over again and I got yet another price hike. Our departure flight went from 150 to 161 to 170 after got the final total, not during. So we called and we were able to get the the third price held until we got the confirmation but they would not return the gouged prices

back to the original. Our return flight went from 119 to 150, again after we got and reponded to the final total. This isn't like the prices at the grocery store change on the shelves which is what they normally do. This is like

going to the grocery store, having them ring up all your purchases and give you the total, and after you write your check they tell you unless you pay more you don't get your groceries. At best it's dishonest and deceptive. It

should be illegal. We called two different customer service representitives and both said there was nothing they could do. They said that the airline has the right to raise their prices as many times as they wish and at any time. So we have the right to never fly them again since they obviously could care less about fair business practices and respect for their passengers. And we all obviously need to demand laws to protect us from such unscrupulous actions in the future! Other industries don't operate like this. A pair of shoes doesn't go up while you look at it. Again when you try them on and again at the register. The price of your hair cut doesn't change mid snip. Why have we all put up with this grossly unfair practice with the airline industry? And please let us all see what we can do to put a stop to it! Turns out the points are pretty useless also.

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
posts: 28,604
reviews: 77
1. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

When booking a flight on line you are not the only one looking at the same flight and buying it before you do. Airlines have flights in different price buckets starting at cheapest and when a particular price bucket is emptied the prices go higher in the next one. That's not bait and switch. It's supply and demand.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 48,556
reviews: 15
2. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Without knowing dates of travel along with departure and arrival points and number of people in the booking*, it's difficult to say with certainty what happened during the booking process, but I have a guess - and it has nothing to do with bait and switch.

*This may have been the tipping point. Let's say you wanted to book from DCA to PHX and return for four people in May. JetBlue may have had seats for four in the lowest fare buckets for your outbound flight (eg [made up fare bucket] K), but only two or three available in the K fare bucket for the return journey; the fourth ticket would have booked into a higher fare bucket, (made up) H.

That one sector for one pax in H might have been enough for the booking engine to push all sectors for all pax into the H fare bucket, K availability notwithstanding. It's not something JB will have done to be unfair or with malice directed at you or any pax, it's simply something built in to the booking algorithm.

I suspect that if you had booked flights for one person at a time you would have found them at the lower fare.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,994
reviews: 5
3. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

>> “What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?” <<

Lesson 1 - stop using such ridiculous terms as bait and switch just because the airfare went up before you bought.

Lesson 2 - (provided by TravellerPlus above) understand how air fares are managed by the airlines. The term is "fare buckets" - google it. When a bucket is empty you have to buy out of a more expensive bucket.

No airline is deliberately trying to seduce you - Nancy5973 - with a cheap airfare and then bouncing you into buying a more expensive ticket**. They don't care who you are, they sell the tickets they have at the cheap fares to the first that push BUY. Someone beat you to that one remaining cheap ticket.

(** that's the practice of the disreputable online bookers).

PS - I know someone who booked a flight on JetBlue's website a few years ago and having seen the fare and accepted it, they offered her a **lower** fare. Why, because during those 2 minutes, someone had probably dropped a hold on a cheaper fare and one ticket had gone back into a cheaper bucket. You win some too :-)

Edited: 1:41 am, March 21, 2013
Sydney, Australia
posts: 796
reviews: 97
4. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?


For what it's worth, I reckon if this happened as described above

..............."Our departure flight went from 150 to 161 to 170 after got the final total, not during.".............

Then, something seems a bit dodgy. The way I read it, the OP had proceeded to "check out" with a confirmed price, then after entering CC details, the fare(s) rose. That doesn't seem right.

Surely once you choose your tickets in the booking process, these tickets are "held" until you either complete or abort the booking.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,994
reviews: 5
5. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

>> Then, something seems a bit dodgy. <<

Not necessarily. Maybe JB provides a very short window to guarantee that fare. If I book concert tickets on Ticketmaster I have 2 minutes to complete the purchase once I'm presented with the available seats, otherwise they're gone and I have to search again and get seats 50 rows further back.

Maybe JB operates a similarly tight window, to prevent pax "hogging" a fare that others could get. Those others could otherwise book in a more expensive bucket, and then go back 20 minutes later and see cheaper fares; how would they feel? And maybe JB is just being transparent (maybe too transparent) throughout the booking process.

It doesn't make it bait and switch, which is the title of the OP's rant.

Edited: 2:21 am, March 21, 2013
posts: 44,821
reviews: 89
6. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

It seems that "bait and switch" is the new "ripped off", if someone uses it in a post, whatever it is, it isn't that.

posts: 1,838
reviews: 228
7. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Joe is right.

"Bait & switch" can now almost always be translated at "I booked without knowing/checking key things, and now need a phrase to make it seem that someone else is to blame rather than my lack of common sense"

Sydney, Australia
posts: 796
reviews: 97
8. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Look, "Bait and Switch" is probably not appropriate here, however I too would be annoyed if during the booking process, and even after completed I found my fare had risen, what 30% I think the OP has stated.

If that situation is true.....then there should be some control over that.

The Ticketek analogy is a good one. I know from experience if I delay too long for whatever reason during the air fare booking process, my session times out. However, i have yet to find when I re-do the booking that the fare has increased dramatically, if at all.

Anyway, the end result is that if you feel you have been wronged by an airline, hotel, car hire company or fast food restaurant, you don't have to go back to them, as the is plenty of competition out there. If the OP's facts are accurate, I reckon (s)he has a right to be peeved, I know I would be.

Play on!!

Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse
posts: 2,897
reviews: 84
9. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

Yes, it is annoying, but you will find the same with a lot of other airlines, not just JetBlue. As others have said, there are most definitely other industries which use the same model - buying tickets for concerts and sports events is another great example. Each have online ticketing systems that allow at lot of people at once to make inquiries and book, so there is bound to be issues with availability of either the seat or the fare that you want.

To the OP: I suggest that you make a survey of which airlines do this and avoid them - my gut feeling says that you won't find many airlines that you can fly with.

southern england
posts: 215
reviews: 31
10. Re: What can we do about bait and switch with air travel?

It would have been interesting if the OP had access to another computer , and done a 'dummy' booking from that PC to test his theory, i have seen on here that has resulted in a lower price.