One would imagine that if you had 20 people flying on the same flights, there would be a great deal getting a “group rate”. Common sense would even suggest that if you had 30 to 40 people, you could even get a couple of free seats, right? Well, there is really nothing “sensible” when you are dealing with the airlines. In fact, you don’t get a better rate or even earn a free seat with most of the airlines even if you have a group of 40! Here is the complete lowdown on group airfare.
First, a group rate consists of 10 or more people flying the EXACT same days from the EXACT same airport. This is key as many destination wedding guests don’t always travel on the same dates or fly from the same airport.
Second, if you see a rate online for 1 or 2 passengers, that rate might not be available for 10 people or more. The airlines may only have a few seats left at that rate so if you block out 10 or more seats, the chances are likely that those 10 seats will pay more than the lowest rate you are finding. If your guests are looking at airfare online, they could protest to the group rate you have locked in, as they may see 1 or 2 seats at a lower rate.
Third, most of the major carriers require 50 + seats to even earn 1 free seat, and that free seat is only worth the fare, and does not include the taxes (so it isn’t completely free).
At this point, I bet you are asking if there is any advantage at all to getting a group rate. There are definitely some “pro’s” to blocking out a group rate.
First, most guests only need to put down between $50 to $100 per person rather than paying full for the flight. This can truly help those on a budget crunch.
Second, many attendees of weddings procrastinate and when they finally get around to looking at flights, airfare can either be sold out or completely over their budget, so locking in on a group rate assures your guests that there is space and at a decent price (if you blocked it out early enough).
Finally, most group contracts allow for name changes and final payment isn’t due until 30 to 60 days prior. If you are holding 15 seats and only need 12, most contracts allow you to drop those remaining unused seats prior to final payment.
Now the downside to group airfare is that though you put a small deposit down, the taxes can change. Sometimes the taxes go up and sometimes they go down. The airlines also require only 1 form of payment. This means that your guests would have to pay 1 person with a check or cash and that 1 person would need to put all the deposits and the final payment on 1 credit card. At VIP Vacations, we use our company card so your guests would only need to pay VIP with a check.
So are there any deals if you have 50 guests but they are flying from other airports and on different dates? There are some carriers that allow a “discount” code for groups. This code can take off 5% for everyone attending your wedding that travels within 7 days prior and returns within 7 days of your event on the same airline. We set up this code for just about every one of our wedding groups the moment you book with VIP! Airfare can truly make or break the budget for your guests. Knowing how group rates work can really help you plan the dates you anticipate your guests traveling. VIP realizes that one of the most stressful issues in planning a destination wedding is dealing with the airlines. We know the rules of playing the group airfare game and are here to tell you what is fair with your airfare!