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I am trying to book a getaway for my wife and I to somewhere warm over Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, even with miles and points, this is proving to be a challenging endeavor to do in anything resembling a cost-effective manner. Actually I’m able to find some decent prices for the outbound flight on either Wednesday or leaving Thanksgiving morning, it’s just impossible to find anything returning back on Sunday

Is it better option 1….

or option 2…

(SEE ALSO: Which of these Southwest Airlines routings is most ridiculous)

I get it… I get it… I’m trying to fly somewhere that everyone wants to be when everyone wants to be there.  It’s the Traveler’s Triangle all over again!

Finding a low-price jackpot?

But then I found some interesting prices over at Google Flights

(SEE ALSO: 6 reasons Google Flights is the best search engine)

Doing a multi-city search and flying from Cancun to Charlotte on Sunday the 25th, and then stopping over in Charlotte overnight before continuing to Indianapolis on Monday morning

$306 is certainly not CHEAP for a one-way, but it’s half the price of other flights, and compared even to award tickets it’s a pretty good price.  Especially considering the fact that the taxes and fees that you get departing Mexico (which are not insubstantial) are baked into the price of the ticket, instead of being added on to an award redemption

Possibly making things even better would be combining this with some low-level award availability on Sunday night from Charlotte back to Cincinnati, which might make a throwaway scenario possibly worthwhile.

Viewing the flights on AA.com

So is this phantom Google space?  Well, I can see the flights on aa.com just fine.

And actually, when they price out in pesos, it’s slightly cheaper

But when you put in your passengers, you get an error message

and it kicks you back to the fare screen. I tried in many different browsers, computers – basically everything I could think of.  It was frustrating to have it to tell me that at least one of my flights or fares was not available, only to have it take me LITERALLY RIGHT BACK TO THE SAME SCREEN WHERE IT SHOWED THESE SO-CALLED “NOT AVAILABLE” FLIGHTS!

Trying to get help from American

I tried this for a few days with no success before reaching out to American.  First of all, I tried tweeting to them.  They were no help, so I called into the AA reservation desk.  After looking into it for a bit, the agent said that the $312 fare was not “in the system” – that the price in the system was $678.  I asked why it kept showing up as $312 on the site, and she referred me to AA.com web support.  I transferred myself over there and after another 30 minute hold, the agent confirmed that the price was $678 and had no answers as to why the website was showing the wrong fare

I still don’t understand how or why American is showing these fares on their website without allowing them to be booked, and it feels on the verge of even being illegal but what do I know.  I get when there is “phantom space” on partner awards, but this is an AA flight showing up on AA.com

Until then… I will keep on the lookout.  If you can find any good deals on a Thanksgiving trip somewhere warm, hit me up!

Have you ever dealt with an airline showing unbookable fares on their own site?  Share your experience in the comments!


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