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Seats Not Available Online

This article was written by in Travel. 12 comments.

Earlier this week, I purchased my airline tickets for the upcoming trip to California my girlfriend and I will take in April. I went through a number of steps to find the best price including tinkering with SideStep.com.

The lowest cost non-stop flight for the dates and times my itinerary required was split between two carriers. SideStep.com wasn’t the only online tool that produced this result. My suggested flight west would be on Continental Airlines and the return flight would be on American Airlines. Even checking directly on Continental’s own website revealed that no return flights were available on that carrier.

As it turns out, sometimes seats are available but not displayed online. I called Continental Airlines and spoke to their booking agents. It turns out that there is a flight at the time I want, and the total price matches that of the combined Continental/American lowest cost round trip. It’s true that the flight is probably overbooked and they are anticipating some cancellations between now and April; I was not assigned a seat number.

It’s easy to become completely reliant on internet tools, but for flights, it doesn’t hurt to call the carrier directly. In this case, I didn’t save any money, but by combining my flights on a preferred carrier and gaining the airline miles, I’ll now qualify for an upgrade or a free ticket.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published February 26, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Adil

You’re right about relying too much on the internet for flights. I had a similar case happen whereby my buddy at this international destination was able to book a flight for me by calling the carrier even though all online agents claimed to be sold out or overpriced in the order of 2 to 3 times. Initially I thought it was an issue of international flights, but your story has convinced me that it’s pretty much universal.

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avatar Jason

Nice. I’ll try this next time!

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avatar Jerry

If it’s not time critical, hopefully you’ll get something out of the flight being overbooked by being bumped in exchange for a voucher. My wife and I prefer the road trip, but again, it all depends on your time constaints.

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avatar Marshall Middle

I usually book online, but if it’s sold out I’ll definitely call the airline to check. Thanks for the tip.

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avatar Linda

Thanks, I’ll have to check out that site. I’ve been using kayak.com lately and it seems to be pretty good. But one of site (and tip) to check out doesn’t hurt. =)

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avatar Peggy

I’ve found, from personal experience, that directly calling the airline yields the best results. But if you have the time (and patience) then you can use the internet search engines (kayak.com, which Linda mentioned above, is quite good). I think you have the best luck getting cheap flights either by booking well in advance or taking a chance to score those last minute steals. And for international travel (esp. to Asia) travel agency is the way to go.

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