Tips and Tricks: Search for One Flight at a Time to Save Money

When on the hunt for the cheapest airfare, always search for one traveler, not two. That’s right, you should search for one flight at a time to save money.


This may seem counter-intuitive. If you are not a solo traveler, you are looking for tickets for both you and your significant/friends/family. So why only search one ticket?

The same seat on a plane can cost varying prices at varying times. As everyone knows, airlines put seats on sale frequently. But what if there is only one sale seat left? By searching for one traveler, then two travelers, you may turn up different prices. And sometimes airlines release one discounted ticket at a time so there aren’t too many available.

For example, if an airline has only one discounted seat at $500 remaining and the rest of the seats are $600, by searching one traveler, then increasing and search for two seats, you will see the discrepancy, and you can book one ticket at a time, paying only $1,100 for the tickets. But if you only search 2 travelers, the airline will automatically take two tickets at the same price (because it won’t allow different prices in the same reservation), and you would end up paying $1,200. That extra $100 is could be a beach dinner for two with wine. Or a fun excursion or tour at your destination. Every dollar counts!

You do, however, always want to make sure to search for the number of seats you need for your party before you book separately to make sure that there are enough seats available before you book. This is especially true if you are looking to do business or first class, as the seating options are limited and many times there may only be one first class seat left.

I will also note that you want to search solo, but that isn’t to say you will book solo. Start solo so that you have an idea of the base ticket price and you can see if it is more with multiple people. Knowledge is power!

So remember, search one but don’t just be done. Do all of your research on availability to make sure there is enough room for your party. But don’t be the airlines’ sucker. I have saved myself and others hundreds by purchasing single tickets rather than tickets for two (or more). Those coins can go towards doing somewhere fun, not getting there.

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I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

32 comments on “Tips and Tricks: Search for One Flight at a Time to Save Money”

  1. Wow! I did not know that. Thank you for your valuable advice. I do not plan to travel anytime in the near future, but my children have some plans. I will let them know about this.

  2. What an awesome tip! I had no clue about that and will keep that in mind the next time we’re traveling. And it’s crazy how airlines have sales one day *poof* gone and then back the next week. So frustrating! LOL

  3. Oh I see! I didn’t know about that and I am glad I read this before buying airline tickets! I always search for the whole family altogether! You think it’s also a good thing to call the airline directly? I have a few requests too, that’s why.

    1. Jo, I don’t think it will hurt to call, but the cheapest tickets are usually online, and if you book over the phone, they usually charge a fee for booking. It depends on the requests, though. You may end up still booking all together, but you want to search one ticket first to see the base price and then see if it is higher for the same flight when you enter in your number of family members.

  4. Oh good advice. Would this apply if you were searching for you and a small child? Are you assigned a seat and what if the seats were not together? Just curious. I haven’t flown in over 15 years.

    1. Heather, I recommend searching for a single passenger, then up the search to two and see if it is the same price. If it is the same price, book them together and choose seats. If one is cheaper, make sure there are seats together and book them separately if you feel comfortable. It may be the same price for both tickets, but I have had to book separate before because one ticket was drastically lower than the other and we saved a bunch. Hope that helps!

  5. I am loving all your tips and tricks for searching for flight bargains. I need to try this and the incognito search you recommended too.

    1. No problem, Christine! Start by searching one, checking out the base price, then check for 5. If there is a change in price, check 2, 3, and 4 passengers to see what is the tipping point when prices go up. Book two reservations to capitalize on the lowest fare for the largest number of people. It could save you hundreds! 🙂

    1. Aisha, I love staycations because they allow us to see our cities from a different perspective. My advice would be to see what you can offer the hotel/resort as a blogger, and to be flexible/travel on off days or weekends.

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