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BLOG: How to manage your group’s air travel requirements

Whether for leisure, business, inbound, outbound or as part of a M.I.C.E booking, if there are 10 or more people travelling, with most airlines this constitutes a group. Travel is travel, but whichever category you fall into, different rules and regulations apply.  If you’re new to managing group air travel this can be quite a complex and daunting process – in this Blog we’ve tried to simplify and offer clarity on where to begin and understand airline requirements.

To manage your group travel requirements, most airlines have experienced and, or dedicated group sales and reservation teams specially trained to assist with your booking.

For Domestic or International travel, usually 10 or more passengers travelling together on a flight are considered to be a group and must be booked via the Group Reservations Division of the appropriate airline.

All group reservations should be made as far in advance as possible but no later than 4 – 6 weeks prior to the date of travel when the airline will require almost immediately all travellers names, ID or passport copies and full payment to meet their ticketing deadlines.

For Domestic travel dates of birth may be asked for and if paying by credit card – proof of the card may be required at check in – discuss these details first with the airline to determine their own particular requirements.  In addition, names need to be exactly as per the passengers ID Document – hence the reason why ID copies are asked for.

For International travel, you will be asked for copies of each traveller’s passport as tickets are issued as per the name in the passport.  Passport numbers, nationality and passport validity will be entered into the passenger’s reservation. 

(In addition, this information allows you to double check the validity of the passport and determine whether a visa will be required for travel).

First step: The airline will provide you with a quote, flight options, class of travel and their Terms & Conditions – which must be strictly adhered to.

On acceptance of the quote (required in writing) a deposit or full payment will be required depending on dates of travel.

Break-aways: For group travel, all passengers must travel on the outbound sector together, however for anyone wishing to return at a later date and travel home independently from the main group – they are known as break-aways.

Airlines usually allow a percentage of breakaways on the return leg of travel only. This equates to approximately 10% of the total number of passengers in the group – a pre-determined number which the airline will advise on confirmation of your group.  Some airlines do allow additional passengers to breakaway for an additional cost.

Deposits: Are required and are typically not refundable.

Ticketing Deadlines: When booking a group and if reserved far enough in advance names are not immediately required.  The airline will provide a date by when full payment is due and tickets have to be issued by.   This is usually 4 – 6 weeks prior to the date of travel.

In most instances control of the group is maintained by the airline on their systems, however, some allow the agent access to the booking for ticketing purposes only.  Control of the PNR – group passenger name record is then taken back by the airline for seating, special meal requests, etc.

Seating: Seating preferences can be requested and the airlines will do all possible to assist, however, any seat numbers confirmed cannot be guaranteed and may be changed by the airline without notice.

Cancellation Fees and Terms & Conditions: Each airline has their own protocols in place which are strictly adhered to.  If booking a group on behalf of a client it is important to copy the client in on this information for all parties to understand the booking procedures and requirements.  This should be done prior to accepting the group air travel offer.

Great savings can be made on group air travel and well worth considering.

Blog by: Clare Neall – Event Stuff South Africa, May 2018