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A group of ~15 musicians need to travel Syd -> NYC in mid December for a week and is looking for the cheapest flights, ideally around $1000pp. What is the best strategy:

  • Contact airlines for group booking as early as possible.
  • Contact travel agents now for the same.
  • Keep eye on ticket prices/sales as individuals would do and book individually when prices drop.
  • Contact airline only when it has tickets on sale for group booking?

My concern is if I ask airlines to quote for the group booking now it will not will no give much discount compared to the sale price which I hope they will have later. Is there any value requesting group quote from airline/agent vs booking individually if you want the cheapest fare?

  • To get a rough idea of what your prices could be like I recommend trying out skyscanner or the like, a quick check just showed me many options for tickets around that price for mid December for individual bookings, you can then compare this to any group bookings offered. – Uciebila May 31 at 12:17
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    To be clear, a group booking for 15 is not the same as 15 individual bookings. The check-in process will be different. You may be able to substitute names. You may not need to pay the entire fare up front. The airline may assign you a special escort and/or seating section. You may be exempt from some baggage fees. I know a lot of people who fixate on the fare, but I also know more than a few who say, after the fact, why did we put ourselves through hell just to save a few hundred dollars? – choster May 31 at 14:29
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You are probably best off finding low fares online (google flights, ita matrix, skyscanner, hipmunk, etc.), then confirm the price (for 1 passenger) on the airlines website, and then contact the airline directly to buy in bulk mentioning the specific fares that you have found and want.

I would do this rather sooner than later. December is a busy travel month and it's unlikely to get cheaper over time.

It looks like Cathay Pacific is currently the lowest bidder with reasonable connections and travel time at about AUD$1400 or US$1000 for most of December.

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    Availability in fare classes is limited, so finding 1 cheap seat doesn't mean they'll have 15 at the same price. – jpatokal May 31 at 14:33
  • Hence my suggestion to talk to them directly. They can make it available if the chunk is attractive enough or they can advise on fare class availability for different dates and routings – Hilmar May 31 at 15:38

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