How, when and where to look..and then where to book?
In late April I was looking for a well-priced business class airfare from Brisbane to London on a well-respected carrier, with a high standard of cabin comfort, to travel in late May 2016. I knew that I was leaving it late to secure the really good one that I normally use – the XXXX/XXXX combination ,which normally costs me about $4,500 including taxes. That is a really good price, because on many other good carriers you will normally pay in excess of $7,000. But it was not available – I should have booked earlier!
Next, I looked at some great combinations with Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and Austrian Airlines but my travel agent airfare specialist could not find me any seats in the special class that I needed for the discount fare. We had just about given up when I suggested that we look at a fare ex Sydney and I just add on a cheap return domestic fare from Brisbane.
BINGO – Up came a couple of SE Asian Airlines at around $4,600 which was cheap. So I went onto SeatGuru to see what travellers said about them and then changed my mind – old aircraft with not terribly comfortable business class seats, and long stopovers on the way.
Then BINGO again. Japan airlines combined with British Airways via Tokyo for $5,637.42 including taxes. And the aircraft are modern, with the latest flatbeds in business class. The only stopover is Tokyo – perfect. Booked!
As a matter of interest, I then went onto the mega-search site TripAdvisor to see what it could find ,and it came up with same options including Japan Airlines/British Airways combination AT THE EXACT SAME PRICE as through my travel agent airfares expert. The reason is that the site that TripAdvisor sent me to with the cheapest price, BXXXXX, uses the same airline reservation system as my travel agent. So it comes up with the same price. This is quite common.
I went ahead and booked through my travel agent airfares expert, because not only was it the same price as the OTA ,but he will book my seats, issue the ticket, and advise any schedule changes – I don’t have to worry about any of that. And importantly I know who he is, where he is, and he is very easily accessible – not like some OTAs.
If I book with an OTA I have to do it all myself, and I am booking with someone with whom I have no contact except phone (if you are lucky) or email. And if there are any questions that I may have later or changes that I want to make, then I have to contact the OTA myself. And depending on who or where they are, it is not always that simple. If you are using an OTA for booking flights then check them out VERY carefully, including what people say about them. And I always like to see a street address on their website!! And one in my own country with a good command of English!
I say much more about booking flights in my bestselling book on Amazon – The Happy Holiday Travel Planner.
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