I have had an exciting few days planning my holidays for the next few months.
I had all the apps and websites open across my desktop and iPad. I have read many expert blogs espousing on the ease and efficiency of booking directly with the airline and online. Well, I am not so sure. I have already explained how I managed to do something wrong on the Thai Airways website such that the price of my flight increased and the variations in website capability when looking for an open jaw flight series.
So when I came to book the open jaw flights I thought I would call Trailfinders and see what they could do for me. Before I called I opened ITA matrix, Seatguru and a few airline websites. I identified prior to calling, the flights I thought I could get and had considered some pros and cons of various airlines (eg direct or indirect flights, how long the layover etc).
Despite ticking the boxes about only showing flights with available seats etc it turned out not to be and certain websites suggested flights were available when they were not (I checked this on the airline’s own booking engine) and so Trailfinders were really helpful. They identified truly available flights and I was able to discuss the issues of long layovers versus cost and they also identified that with Emirates I could get a discount if I also booked a hotel, something not flagged on the websites and something you need to check separately if you do it yourself. The agent spent over and hour with me and in the end I really feel I got a good deal, with some compromise, but also better than I could have done on my own and probably in less time.
Many experts seem to write off travel agents but if you are a beginner and do not have access to certain industry search tools I would wholeheartedly recommend taking the advice of a travel agent.
So today I was thinking about where I wanted to go. Would I play safe or go somewhere new. I sat on the fence with a great thought. I would spend a few days in a new place, Kuala Lumpur, then relocate to an old one, Singapore.
I then contemplated how I would get to each place. Searching ITA Matrix it all seemed a bit complicated and expensive. I then had the thought that I should try and book London to Kuala Lumpur and then Singapore to London and worry about the relocation flight at a different time. This brought up a much better schedule and costings.
Two airlines looked good. I went to their websites. On one I was able to put the open jaw schedule and get almost the same price as the “Matrix” quoted. The other airlines site let me search multi-city but would only quote for economy and I really wanted business. There was no way I could replicate the “Matrix“ quote.
It is fascinating to me the huge differences in the functionality of various airline websites. Surely this could lead to some airlines losing custom. I am most likely to book with the airline that I can organise the flights I want on the website unless my travel agent can match the prices. If one airline site can do it why can’t the others? Surely they track the functionality of each other’s sites. Perhaps even my small attempt at something different to the straight out and return of most flights is too unusual for some airlines to bother about.
So I await my travel agent but doubt they will be able to match the price. I suspect I know which airline has won my custom this time!
I saw an airline flight sale and the deal to Sydney looked great.
I contacted a travel agent I have used in the past and their best price was £100 above the web price. This was surprising as the agent said she understood they had price parity with the airline site.
Anyway, I decided to book online. I worked through the system and got to my credit card details. Before hitting the “buy” button I had a little cold feet and so thought I would just verify the flight details and connections by re-searching the flights. This forced a refresh and return to the beginning of my application. It also repriced the flight at £300 more. I was really frustrated. I tried a different browser and even a different computer as I had read that the systems remembered the quotes but to no avail. the price remained higher. When I was booking, only 2 seats at the sale price remained. Clearly I and the agent had “held” seats and forced the system to reprice.
I gave up and called my travel agent and she efficiently booked my flights at £100 more than the original web price. I was happy….
Then I checked the cost again, it had dropped. I presume that as I “gave up” my online reservation and a seat became available so the price fell back to the original quote.
Moral of the story;
- Don’t book when there are only a couple of seats available – get in early. Timing is everything
- Check and check and check again and then progress through the booking. Never press the back button.
- If unsure trust the experts and accept a slightly higher price – It is still a great deal.
- Make a decision, accept it and don’t ruminate on it. Enjoy the thought of the upcoming flight.
This is all new-ish to me. I will get better and more confident.