When you shop on Expedia or Google Flights, the fares listed are in the lowest possible fare class, which is sometimes basic economy. Most travelers avoid basic economy fares because you do not get to pick your seats. Rather, seats get assigned at check-in.
In addition, some airlines have additional restrictions when it comes to basic economy. They are considered the cheap, no-frills product of an airline’s offerings.
It’s important to note, when you shop for group airfare, the airlines are pricing seats at the main cabin rate.
Main cabin is traditionally $35 to $50 higher than basic economy fares domestically.
Furthermore, when you purchase large blocks of space, sometimes you exhaust the fare class you are booking in, and hold space across two fares classes.
Consider this example.
Say you are holding 20 seats on the plane. You may get the first 10 seats at $200 per seat, exhausting the fare class. The next batch of seats you get will be at a higher price, say $249 per seat.
The airline will take the 20 seats and average out the fares while sometimes applying a small discount.
Likely, you will end up booking your 20 seats for $220 per seat.
In reality, you ended up saving money and got some amazing contract terms, like the ability to split payments and change names on a ticket
To the untrained eye, this group fare does appear higher than the lowest fares displayed on Expedia or Google Flights. If you were to book in groups of 6 or 9 on the airline’s website, you would be stuck with non-refundable, non-transferable fares. In addition, you would have to pay the entirety of the ticket at the time of purchase.
Group fares allow trip organizers to hold space at a single, guaranteed fare. This means, everyone in your group pays the same rate. In addition, your group doesn’t have to pay for the fare in full until 30-45 days prior to departure.
These types of tickets allow greater flexibility than purchasing published rates on Expedia, Google Flights, or the airline’s website.