No, there’s not 1 seat left. Don’t believe the airline’s website when booking.

I had to book a ticket from Dallas to New York in October (more on that in another post), and ending up finding a fare I was content with. $144 isn’t bad at all.

So, I did as I usually do and went to the American website to book my flights. Under the flight I wanted, I noticed “1 Seat left,” so I naturally went through the booking process to ticket the reservation, considering the flights worked for me.

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The second flight also had one seat left.

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So, I ticketed the reservation, and everything was all set. Heck, upgrade odds looked fairly decent as well.

Out of curiosity, I went back to the main homepage and looked up the same routing I did before, to be presented with the same flights. Again, “1 Seat left.” What the heck? I thought I was the one to grab the last seat, since prior to purchasing, it also told me that there was one spot remaining. Now, for clarification, this warning is for 1 seat left at that price. It does not mean it is the last seat on the plane.

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Thinking that maybe the system hadn’t updated, I came back an hour later. I refreshed my cache (so the computer wound’t recognize any previously stored website data) and found the EXACT same flights, with “1 Seat left.”

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So, in reality, there really wasn’t 1 Seat left. In fact, there was more than one…but it confuses me as to why American would place this warning there if it didn’t hold true.

  • The airlines try to create a sense of urgency. If they tell you there’s only so many places remaining, you’re more likely to book the ticket now, and think later. For a non-refundable ticket, however, that could be a money-loser. Luckily for American flyers, you can hold a reservation and lock-in the price.
  • Traditionally, the “1 Seat left” warning means that it’s the last seat in a certain fare bucket. Theoretically, a number of passengers could have canceled their tickets in the hour I was waiting, and mysteriously all those tickets went back into the same inventory, however I think that is highly unlikely.

Personally, I wish they’d remove this “warning” if it isn’t going to hold true. I appreciate them letting me know that there’s only so many seats left at that fare, but I also don’t appreciate the fact that if I come back hours later, I encounter the same pricing that I did before — I ticketed the ticket at the time I did so I could be guaranteed that fare…

Have you ever booked a ticket due to a sense of urgency created by the airline? 

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Comments

  1. Pam says

    Booking flights for a few freelance workers in April, I had a ticket on hold but the dates changed so I released the hold and searched again. Double the price I’d had on hold, 1 seat left. A month later I had to book a last minute additional person for the same exact flight. It was a week before departure, a trans Atlantic flight, and it cost less than the 1 seat left price a month prior. And of course it also showed 1 seat left.

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