Independent ticketing

Reply

Nov 9th, 2014, 11:21 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
Independent ticketing

We are frequent flyer members on United. I am planning a trip to Europe. I put our particulars into the United site and they listed a number of flights, all on United. I understand that they want to sell seats on their flights, but we have been growing disenchanted with United, and I wanted to see what was available on other members of the Star alliance.

I found the ITA site and they listed some attractive flights, but cautioned that they don't sell tickets themselves, and said I should take the information they found, which they listed in an easy-to-print format, to a travel agent.

I know that most of the travel agents are no longer in business in my town. So what is the best way to buy these tickets. Can I call United (and pay for the privilege) and have them book the tickets (that seems most convenient to me, as they already have all the information on us, such as passports and credit card, needed to get the tickets)?
clevelandbrown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 11:26 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,032
If you are comfortable with them, you can ticket those flights on Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity or any of the other mainline online travel agents. I would avoid going with almost any of the minor ones.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 12:41 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,597
You certainly can call United and have them book the tickets for you. But I'm guessing you didn't see the flights on the other Star Alliance members because the check box that says "Search United flights only" was checked. Just uncheck that box and you should get flights on partner airlines. Note that some flights may be code-share, so you may see a United flight number and in smaller print below "operated by Airline XYZ."

Personally, I don't book on Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity having read fat too many stories of people who needed the tickets changed in some way and the agency wouldn't help them.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 02:45 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
I dug some more. We had a nasty experience with Expedia (I think, it's been years) so I have stuck with booking on the airlines' sites, and it has worked fairly well.

I went back to the United site and, at least for my profile, the block limiting the search to United flights was not checked. I then noticed they have a block where you can select the number of flights to be displayed. It was set to default. When I opened it, one could pick 25 or 50, with 25 apparently the default. I ran it with 50 and got a lot more flights, but not the one I wanted. Perhaps it would do better if I said I wanted to depart in the afternoon, but I ran out of energy. Interestingly, the flights I wanted, with Swiss on the two long legs, were, according to ITA identical in price to United's lowest.

Now I will lurk for awhile, hoping for a sale for this May trip.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 02:51 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,719
The box Kathie mentions is unchecked by default, is in the bottom of the online search form. Pretty much all airlines now have their booking functionality set to preferentially sell their own flights. And though they are supposed to be synchronized, in some cases airline alliance partners have technical incompatibilities in their systems that prevent true transparency. Also keep in mind what Kathie mentions about code share flights.

If you have to call UA because you are unable to book the flights you want online you are not supposed to be liable for the phone booking fee. (You may need to point this out to the agent.) Suggest that you start the conversation with "I have been trying to book these flights online at your site and cannot make it work" or start the call by asking for the online help desk.

Also agree with Kathie about avoiding third party sites. Another option is to go to the site of the alliance partner airline you found on ITA and try to book there. After the ticket is issued you can always add your UA FF# to get the miles credited to your account.
Seamus is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 03:03 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,905
I've seldom encountered problems recreating an ITA itinerary using Expedia, and haven't had any difficulties with buying tickets through them either, but YMMV. Maybe your choices are too obscure? Why don't you mention your proposed route and carriers and let us see?
Gardyloo is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 04:15 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,597
Maybe the "search United flights only box" is supposed to be unchecked by default, but I was searching for flights this week and couldn't find the Lufthansa flights I thought had the best connections - Indeed, my search turned up no Lufthansa flights. I thought this was odd, then noted that the check box for United only was checked. I unchecked it and voila! There were the flights I was interested in.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2014, 05:31 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
I'm mortified. Our trip is from Cleveland to Geneva, then from Zurich to Cleveland. The Swiss air site won't work because they apparently don't think Cleveland is a real place.

I went back to ITA to double check what type of planes Swiss air would be using, and they will be using United planes as a codeshare, so we wouldn't be able to sample the Swiss air service. That explains the identical fares. I hadn't realized how extensively United has spread its roots.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2014, 07:26 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,072
You can use any online travel agency site to search for flights. Try a variety of them to see what comes up. On occasion you'll find a flight using one site that you don't find on others. Then simply go to the airline with which you wish to fly and book the flights. That's the easiest thing assuming you know which airlines are in the Star Alliance (and presuming you absolutely have to stick with those airlines).

You can also use a site like Kayak, which combines searches from a variety of different flights to show you the best deals and routes. Again, you don't have to book with them. Just book with the airline.
doug_stallings is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2014, 08:53 AM
  #10
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,785
I have no problem seeing CLE to GVA and ZRH to CLE on the Swiss website.

Outbound, 2 stop via ORD, ZRH
Return, 1 stop via ORD

CLE to ORD are on United. ZRH to ORD on LX (Swiss)
J62 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2014, 02:47 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
Thanks for pointing that out. I hadn't tried to work their site for a few years. I found the site was a bit awkward; you had to enter the connecting airports or they would say they didn't fly to your destination.

We are actually going to Basel, after a week in the Simmental, and I had planned to train to Zurich to catch the flight. When I read that Basel has an international airport, I plugged it into the united site and for about the same price, we can fly from Basel to Munich to Houston to Cleveland, which will earn us an extra 2000 miles.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 12th, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 660
If there is a way to avoid a connecting flight even at a higher cost I opt for it every time. The thought of a Basel-Munich-Houston-Cleveland combination makes me shudder. Butttt, to each his own as they say.

Out of curiousity, what will be the 'door to door' time of that return? From the time you leave your Basel hotel to the time you arrive at your own front door in Cleveland. Have you figured it out?

If it were me I would be doing Zurich-Toronto(or Montreal)-Cleveland which would mean only one connection.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 12th, 2014, 02:13 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,140
You simply recreate the flights you found on ITA (make a note of each flight date/departure time and flight #) on United. Select multi-city and be sure to select the time range for both flights. Also select search by schedule, not price. Display 50 flights.

If you have to connect, select add a flight. Example: CLE to ORD for flight #1 at certain time of day, ORD to GVA for flight #2 at certain time, etc. and add the return flights this way.
kybourbon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 13th, 2014, 07:27 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
Basel to Cleveland, via Houston is a 20 hour venture. 0615 to 2020. We struggle to fly enough to keep our silver status which avoids baggage charges. So I pick the flight that earns the most miles, or has the most connections. We're pretty adept at sleeping on flights.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 13th, 2014, 07:33 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,140
Doesn't United offer a credit card that gives free baggage?
kybourbon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 13th, 2014, 08:58 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 660
"We struggle to fly enough to keep our silver status which avoids baggage charges."

Sometimes you have to wonder what the priorities in life should be.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:44 PM.