Wondering about airfare for 2016 Kenya safari

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Apr 15th, 2015, 08:19 AM
  #1
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Wondering about airfare for 2016 Kenya safari

I've locked and loaded my itinerary for Kenyan safari in Feb 2016. Between some really good deals and wanting to make sure I get the locations I want, plus having to plan far ahead at work to take a big chunk of time off, that worked out well.

However, airfare seems exorbitant compared to the last two years. My usual carrier, KLM, is quoting twice what it was last year. The seating charts for the Amsterdam - Nairobi flights "appear" about half full. I'm unsure if that's because they hold seats or if people really are booking 10 months out. I didn't book my air for my last two February safaris until July, so I'm contemplating waiting to see if there's a drop then, but don't want to blow my alternatives, which right now are BA at slightly less than what KLM is quoting or Emirates at the same price as KLM last year. The only thing holding me back from booking Emirates is the thought of 12 hours to Dubai in economy (they have no premium economy). Turkish, which I recently got bumped on to on the way to Italy and I loved, doesn't work out due to the arrival and departure times of my itinerary.

I know no one has a crystal ball, but WWYD (what would you do?)?
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Apr 15th, 2015, 08:58 AM
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WWID?
Not sure but I do know people who have flown on Emirates in economy (not to Nairobi, but Italy) and have raved about it. Said it was the best economy flight they ever had.

Since I am not a risk taker, I would probably just book my flight now because I would be too worried that all the flights might get booked or only seats left would be near the bathroom. BA does not allow you to choose seats until you check in. I don't know what the protocol is for KLM.
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Apr 15th, 2015, 09:58 AM
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Thanks, jparis2. KLM allows for seat selection at the time of reserving and I can get more leg room for only $69 each leg, which is worth it to me. I've heard a lot of good things about Emirates, but the bad reviews of economy are all on the 777-300 which is the aircraft I'd be on for 20+ hours total each way. The economy class on the Airbus 380 is getting raves.
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Apr 16th, 2015, 03:23 AM
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amyb - Where are you flying from? 12 hours to DBX so I am guessing you are coming from the USA?

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Apr 16th, 2015, 03:37 AM
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Yes Boston.
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Apr 16th, 2015, 04:03 AM
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I am going to have Phil from our air department answer this!

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Apr 16th, 2015, 04:41 AM
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Just for reference, same time last year I paid $890 on KLM. I'm now seeing $1700 for same dates, same routing, three months earlier than when I booked before. Just seems odd to me!
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Apr 16th, 2015, 05:56 AM
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In the airfare world, the early bird doesn't always get the best worms. Airlines will sometimes set fares higher in the early part of the booking window (11 or 12 months depending on the airline) so that they can "hedge" against their own costs spiking in the meantime. At most of a year out, they don't know what oil/fuel prices might be - maybe higher, maybe lower - so they gamble on higher so as to preserve profit. If fuel prices don't go up, all that happens is that their profits do.

But as the booking window moves on, they can get a better handle on their own costs, and may open up some cheaper seats as they do. There's no guarantee of this of course, but there's also probably minimal risk to you for the time being in waiting.

But I also just pulled up a month fare calendar for February on ITA and can see bunches of flights for under $900, including several on KLM, so not clear how you're seeing the big numbers.

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Apr 16th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Thanks gardy, I'm tempted to wait it out myself, but it's somewhat concerning to see that well over half the plane is showing as "booked" on the KLM seating chart. It makes me think either they've blocked those seats and will release them later, as you say, or they are indeed already booked.

I've used both ITA and Kayak, and the KLM flights you see under $900 are actually operated by Kenya Airlines, which I would rather not fly. Turkish is the other one under $900, but unfortunately it arrives too late and leaves too early for the itinerary I already have set. The $1700 I get is through KLM.com directly (and Delta.com).
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Apr 16th, 2015, 07:50 AM
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Hello Amy,

It looks like this may be an availability issue on your specific travel dates. I just pulled up fares on a couple of random dates in February and am finding fares in the range that you expect – $800 to $1000 per person.

If your dates are flexible, I suggest looking at flights perhaps a day or two in advance of your safari departure, and a day or two past the end of your safari, to see if you find anything less expensive. A $700-$900 per person savings could very well offset the additional hotel cost.

Or – you may want to consider moving your safari dates to align with dates where lower fares are available. (Obviously not an option if your safari carries big penalties for date changes.)

Since lower fares are up for sale during the month of February, I really don’t see the fares going down. If neither of the above options is feasible for you, then I recommend getting your tickets as soon as possible to avoid further fare increases.

Phillip Gain - Air Department Manager - Travel Beyond
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Apr 16th, 2015, 08:13 AM
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Thanks for looking into this Phillip, I appreciate it. I'm willing to add a day on either side, but if I want to go purely KLM, I'm not seeing any for the lower price that aren't on Kenya Airways (listed as "KLM operated by Kenya Airways"). The pure KLM flights are the ones that are pricing that high. Maybe Kenya Airways wasn't an alternative last time and that's why the pricing has changed. I've even looked into January and December for comparison, or going to JFK in New York first, and it's the same thing.
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Apr 16th, 2015, 08:40 AM
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Hi Amy,

Not sure what exact dates you looked at. I just chose random dates and got these prices:

DL 124X 15FEB M BOSAMS SS2 716P 815A 16FEB
KL 565R 16FEB T AMSNBO SS2 1020A 825P
KL 566R 28FEB S NBOAMS SS2 1040P 510A 29FEB
DL 125X 29FEB M AMSBOS SS2 1010A 1221P

$922.80 per person

Phil
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Apr 16th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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Phil, you won't believe this, but I select that exact same fare on klm.com and get $1561!!!! Is it because I'm doing it through a US site?
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Apr 16th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Hi Amy,

Not sure what to say. I am still seeing the same price in SABRE (one of the various Global Distribution Systems/GDS). Have you tried on Delta.com?

Phi
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Apr 16th, 2015, 05:37 PM
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Yep. And I've had friends try on PCs that havent been searched on yet, with the same results. I did a "In Private" (that doesn't access cookies or browser history) internet explorer session and got an $1100 fare for the flights I want. I picked economy seats and proceeded to enter credit card details, and the fare changed to Business Class for$7600. I called KLM and he could only pull up $1700 fares, and said the reason I got bumped to business was all coach low fares are sold out. This is the travel gods telling me not to fly KLM. I've never had such an issue with air before.
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Apr 18th, 2015, 09:26 PM
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We have just returned from Kenya to UK. I usually fly Kenya Airways as is is night flight and I can leave London on a Friday evening and be in the bush the next morning. (They are operting new Dream liners on this route)

Some visitors at the camp we were at flew from the US to Istanbul and then on to Nairobi (Turkish Air). They were complimentary.
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Apr 19th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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I went with British Airways in the end. Every coach flight I pulled up on KLM converted to Business at the payment screen. I had a long discussion over two days on Twitter and they kept telling me the Bos-AMS and then the AMS-NBO routes were sold. I went to a travel agent on Friday afternoon who could not pull up anything but $1800 fares. KLM said the "double check" done at the time of the payment screen often flushes out "sold out" fares and bumps them to Business; they say this as if it is normal behavior! Frankly I'm surprised any fare is sold out at 10 months from the date of travel; usually I book in June or July for February and do just fine.

Peshf, I took Turkish to Italy last month and loved it. If they had a better schedule on the return to Boston, I would have flown them to Nairobi.
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