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A few days ago I wanted to buy Pegasus airline tickets because it was offering a 50% reduction on normal fares. I wanted a few tickets but couldn't even buy a single one. I tried different places with different networks but none worked. I even called my sister in New York to buy tickets for me and the result was again ineffective.

This is not the first time I encountered this problem. I have faced similar issues with other budget airlines as well (Ryanair, AirAsia). All the time during the sale, the website page was unresponsive. Well I do understand it all happens because of airline biggest sale promotion. I have bought promotion tickets "buy 1 get 1" and "Up to 25% off" before, but never been able to buy anything from the biggest sales.

Is there any possibility or hack to buy an airline ticket in one of these sales?

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    Their sales are very popular so their websites, which are the only place the tiickets are available, get overloaded. What can you do about that? Nothing. – David Richerby Oct 11 '16 at 9:05
  • Another reason, specially in the case of AirAsia, could be that the promo price still includes the airport taxes, which is the largest portion of the ticket anyway, making the offer not really that exciting. – Ayesh K Oct 11 '16 at 16:39
  • @pnuts received an email 1 day before sale, I think I reacted late. I am a registered traveller of those airline – Ali Awan Oct 11 '16 at 19:05
  • @pnuts yeah I know now, I had better move accordingly when I see a sale again – Ali Awan Oct 11 '16 at 19:07
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Big sales draw lots of buyers for only a few seats. Many "sales" by airlines have limited availability, often just a few seats on each applicable flight. Lots of people head for the website and those seats are gobbled up quickly.

The trick is to be first in line ;-)

Some airlines announce sales ahead of time to their frequent flyers. Some announce it via their email newsletter. Some announce it the moment the sale starts. If you find out about these sales second hand from a friend or social media or the news channel, you are too late.

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    Some unscrupulous airlines and websites also use a bait-and switch approach. They show you a low fare initially, then ask for all your personal information, insurance details etc. Then just before the payment page a pop-up says "fare has gone up by $XX". Continue? Many people would, instead of going over the whole process again. – kabZX Oct 11 '16 at 10:20
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    The EU bans the practice mentioned by @kabZX, so take a screenshot if you want to reclaim the fare increase. Easiest to pay with creditcard and then dispute the charge. – MSalters Oct 11 '16 at 11:56
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    @kabZX I've worked for an airline that did this and it's wasn't deliberate misinformation, or bait-and-switch, it happens because the fare search system and the booking system are separate and the available fare classes are not always in sync. – z7sg Ѫ Oct 11 '16 at 15:12
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    @MSalters Do you have a reference for this? Disputing charges for purchases you really made sounds dangerous. – Dmitry Grigoryev Oct 11 '16 at 16:02
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    @MSalters - Airline bookings are not considered accepted and confirmed until the client pays. So the seat can be sold right up to that time, which is sometimes why kabZX's issue occurs. – user13044 Oct 12 '16 at 0:45
5

Airlines typically operate separate systems for fare searches and bookings/reservations. The reservations engine or GDS may be a legacy system that still runs on a mainframe! But fare searching is quite an intensive operation, so in order to perform fare searches quickly and at scale, all of the reservations information is mirrored on a much faster, modern system, together with the fares and other data. Unfortunately this means that sometimes the indicative fares returned by a flight search are for fare classes without availability. Where this is the case, there should be advice on the website informing you that "all fares subject to availability" or similar.

One tip that may work with certain airlines: If you are booking multiple seats on a single flight, they will search for the cheapest fare class with the required availability, so if there is only one seat left at the low price, you won't see it... unless you search for a single passenger flight. This is rare but can happen.

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