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Using an online agent for "Cheap Business Class" fares

Using an online agent for "Cheap Business Class" fares

Old Sep 20th, 2023, 02:52 PM
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Using an online agent for "Cheap Business Class" fares

I haven't used a travel agent in over 30 years (like many on this site). We would like to fly Business Class from Seattle to Tel Aviv, and home from Istanbul.
There is an online agent (?) who advertises "Cheap Business Class Fares." Indeed, their fares look like they'd be about $800-900 less than buying directly from the airline's website. (I typically book our tickets directly through the airline's website).

Does anyone have experience using an online travel agent for "discounted" fares? I am leery of this.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by halfapair
I haven't used a travel agent in over 30 years (like many on this site). We would like to fly Business Class from Seattle to Tel Aviv, and home from Istanbul.
There is an online agent (?) who advertises "Cheap Business Class Fares." Indeed, their fares look like they'd be about $800-900 less than buying directly from the airline's website. (I typically book our tickets directly through the airline's website).

Does anyone have experience using an online travel agent for "discounted" fares? I am leery of this.
Sometimes those sellers use freq. flier miles they have gobbled up which may work but is technically illegal. I don't know if this seller is one of those.

Try going to "google flights" to see if you can get a better fare. What are your dates of travel?

Usually TA's are not able to do much w airfares though once our TA got us a nice deal on biz from Chicago to Tokyo thru a consolidator her co. uses. So a call to a TA asking for a consolidator fare is surely worth a phone call.

Good luck!
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 04:53 PM
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Yes, I’ve been using Google flights to look at routes, itineraries, and fares.
Our travel dates are May 22-June 22, 2024. Seattle to Tel Aviv, and Istanbul to Seattle (open jaws).
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 05:59 PM
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Beware these places that offer such deals - very, very often they are thinly veiled violations of the program rules, using FF miles that they turn into tickets to sell. This is as oppose to consolidators who buy tickets in bulk at deeply discounted rates then re-sell them, but no way to be sure. You might get away with it, but you could also be challenged, especially if you run into any disruptions en route.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 10:12 PM
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I've booked several trips with Airtreks.com, a consolidator, including 2 RTW & a business class trip through Asia. It's been about 10 years since the last one & their website has changed somewhat but I suggest you contact them & see what they can do for you. I was always satisfied with what they were able to provide at very good prices.

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Old Sep 21st, 2023, 08:28 AM
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The day of the consolidator "bucket shops" - buy in bulk, sell at a discount - are pretty much past. Only the biggest buyers of tickets - typically only in economy class - can swing deep discounts with the airlines, and often not very deep at that. Cruise lines are the biggest players, as they're able to bundle the airfare with the cruise fare and can also sell one-way tickets easier than other sources, since most of their one-way cruises (Vancouver to Alaska, Florida to Europe etc.) ultimately return on the same route, sooner or later, so two one-way plane rides, but with different passengers.

Consolidators buying up "surplus" business class tickets is something of a myth. The airlines' own revenue management algorithms are much, much more sophisticated than they were even 20 years ago. There are so many buying channels now, so many people with millions of banked frequent flyer miles, so many people who are willing to pay for flat beds and free booze compared to a skinny seat, no legroom and endless nuisance fees, that the need for "consolidators" as an outlet for "surplus" seats is minimal. Look at it this way - if the airlines let someone else sell the same seat for that much less money, why would travelers ever pay full price? Just be patient and wait for the cheap seats. Doesn't work that way. Instead, the airlines will just open cheaper fare buckets on selected city pairs and let the market find them. For example, for the OP's dates, a business class ticket to Paris from Seattle will cost between $3500 and $4000 round trip. The same days from Vancouver BC, US$2590. Is it worth a 4-hour train ride to save $1000 - $1500?

Or what if you found a decent fare to, say, Amsterdam, London or Paris, then booked a separate open-jaw trip to Israel, back from Turkey, and added the two ticket prices together? Obviously, you'd want to buffer the connections with enough time to recover if things go awry, but maybe the savings will be worth the risk.

Now this is completely different than the many mileage brokers who style themselves as "consolidators" (there being no industry standard for what you can call yourself.) The mileage brokers, of which there are dozens - buy frequent flyer miles from FF plan members, then sell "award" flights as if they were normal tickets to their customers, usually making considerable profits in the process. This practice is NOT illegal, but it IS counter to the T&Cs of every frequent flyer program. The airlines are increasingly cracking down on this, which they do by canceling the tickets, closing the accounts of those who sold them, and - in some cases - going after both the broker and the seller in court.

I myself fell victim to these crooks some years ago, when my laptop was stolen and someone managed (in minutes, evidently) to hack my American Airlines FF account and stole around 300,000 miles. The thief then sold those miles to one of the more notorious mileage brokers, Skylux, who then sold three business-class tickets to travelers who thought they were getting a great deal on travel on Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and Canada. One of the trips took place; the other two got canceled by American Airlines, one when the purchaser of the ticket was actually boarding the flight from Hong Kong to Toronto. No ticket, no refund, tough luck.

My suggestion for the OP or anyone looking to save money on business class airfare is to be flexible on dates, on airports, and keep looking. Shopping in September for a trip in May/June is probably too early - too many things can happen in the meantime (fuel prices spike, labor unrest etc.) but bargains do come up, so monitoring the situation is well advised. Use Google flights, but also check this board on Flyertalk, where most of the good deals show up almost immediately - Premium Fare Deals - FlyerTalk Forums . Brush up on your airline and airport codes first.

Sorry this is long-winded, but that's me.
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Old Sep 21st, 2023, 09:50 AM
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Tagging for future use --Gardyloo's info, not the OP.
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Old Sep 21st, 2023, 11:00 AM
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Great post, Gardyloo! Thank you.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2023, 02:32 AM
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It is a great post but I don't entirely agree with all of the content. Remember that corporations can also have their own business class fares, if you work for a huge corporation somewhere with millions of $$ of annual travel budget a year and the travel policy is longhaul is in business class, do you think they all run to airline websites to book full business fare? Travel agent special fares are not always about surplus inventory, it is also about helping to fill the flight in the first place, their "deal" with with airline might span 1 year, how can you say what will be surplus next September, even with all the forecasting tools and stats the airlines have at their disposal?

And the higher classes eg first, business and premium are very often the first to sell out, not economy, of course that depends on the airline/route etc. There isn't much discount in economy, the airlines lowest available fare on their website is often the best value - but business class, because it is a higher fare to start with, any discount *can* be significant. And several airlines have sales and discounts at the moment, signing up for their newsletters is a good idea if you want to be informed of sales campaigns.

So I think the answer is it depends, which agent is offering the fare, are they a legitimate agency with professional affiliations, what airline it is being offered on, what are the conditions of the fare offered, is it refundable and changeable and what do you think their service is going to be like if you get a sched change between when it is booked and when you will travel.

Anything that indicates it could be using a mileage scheme is to be avoided - however, that does not mean if you are not entitled to accrue FF points that it is some sort of scam. Lower fares sometimes mean you cannot accrue points or miss out on some other benefits normally given to the full fare payers.

And there is no such thing as buying in bulk and reselling - these are airline bookings, inventory is taken from the airline itself as and when a booking is requested by someone, its not the same as buying and reselling other commodities. TAs don't "buy" anything in the traditional sense, they facilitate bookings with airlines, they have nothing of their own to sell.





Last edited by balthy; Sep 22nd, 2023 at 02:35 AM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2023, 08:03 AM
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Of course I meant that third parties (like corporations) can contract with airlines to reserve the right to buy x number of tickets at a given price. My bad for saying "buy and resell." For years, for example, SAG-AFTRA (the folks now striking) had deals with a couple of big US-based airlines that facilitated the requirement in the SAG-AFTRA contracts with the filmmakers that actors had to fly in first class on any trip over 1000 miles. (That went away in 2010, replaced with business class.) On certain routes, like LAX to JFK on American Airlines, sitting up front made you think you were in some studio commissary. Here in Seattle, where for years British Airways had a monopoly on nonstop flights to London, getting a seat in business class on BA flights was very hard because Microsoft (and I believe Boeing) had lucrative contracts with BA covering their employees' travel to Europe and beyond.

However I don't think those conditions apply to the OP.

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Old Sep 22nd, 2023, 01:42 PM
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Gardyloo, I remember when your mileage points were stolen, I changed my password immediately. Which reminds me, I need to do that again.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2023, 02:07 PM
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"It is a great post but I don't entirely agree with all of the content. Remember that corporations can also have their own business class fares, if you work for a huge corporation somewhere with millions of $$ of annual travel budget a year and the travel policy is longhaul is in business class, . . ."

True, but not much relevance to this OP who is trying to book leisure flights to Israel/Turkey.
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Old Sep 25th, 2023, 07:43 AM
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Thank you for all the information, Gardyloo et al.

I am kicking myself for not purchasing our tickets when they first opened up. The price was about $7700 for the two of us. Now it's $9200-ish. I will wait and see what happens with fares, I did read a story that fares may go down in January because of economic pressure, etc. Not sure if that will impact Business Class as well.

Now that 6'3" DH has experienced BC, there is no going back for him. His legs were much happier on our recent British Airways flight.
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Old Sep 26th, 2023, 12:25 PM
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Thanks everyone for such informed views on finding discounted business class flights. I will probably price check a lot these next few months.

Carol
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Old Sep 28th, 2023, 02:28 AM
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There is a round the world business class deal with Star alliance starting in Italy if anyone is interested for about $4500-$5500. I was contemplating a MXP-SFO-AKL-TYO-MXP for about $5500 but could not work it into my time frame. Agree pretty much with Gardyloo. I remember in the old days flying to London and going to a bucket shop for flights elsewhere. Not anymore.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 08:21 AM
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Update: I purchased our tickets from Turkish Airlines on Saturday. $8400 for two people, Business Class, SEA - TLV (via IST), then IST-SEA (open jaw), in May/June 2024.

When the seats first opened up the fare was $7700, then they went up to $9400. On Saturday they were $8400. I looked at the seating charts and saw that a few seats had been purchased, so I acted on the assumption that the fares would not go back down to the original $7700.

I might be wrong, but $8400 is not too shabby.

Last edited by halfapair; Oct 3rd, 2023 at 08:24 AM.
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Old Oct 4th, 2023, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by halfapair
Update: I purchased our tickets from Turkish Airlines on Saturday. $8400 for two people, Business Class, SEA - TLV (via IST), then IST-SEA (open jaw), in May/June 2024.

When the seats first opened up the fare was $7700, then they went up to $9400. On Saturday they were $8400. I looked at the seating charts and saw that a few seats had been purchased, so I acted on the assumption that the fares would not go back down to the original $7700.

I might be wrong, but $8400 is not too shabby.
I think you have to grab the price that youíre comfortable with and just except it. It may go down, but I think you got a pretty good price and you just donít know how air fares move.
In 2018 we were looking at round-trip business class here from Chicago to Beijing. United and American and Air Canada weíre all around $8400 for two, give or take a few hundred. Then one day United went down to about $5200.00 the fares on Air Canada I donít think change, but American was also dropping their fears similarly. We took the flight on United and a few days later all three of those aforementioned airlines had prices up in the $8000 range for two people. So I think you get it when you can get it!

I think itís a good deal, and Turkish is a good airline.
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Old Oct 5th, 2023, 05:41 AM
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Thanks for your encouragement and information! I have been tracking business class airfares for a couple of weeks, with zilch to show for it. The airline fare, Lufthansa, with a multi-city itinerary, hovers around $11,000 for two people. I am hopeful I can catch a better fare with reasonable connections so that my 90 year old husband and I aren't racing through an airport to make the next connection!

As a side note, we did once use Turkish Airlines and all was well.

Carol
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Old Oct 5th, 2023, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by halfapair
Update: I purchased our tickets from Turkish Airlines on Saturday. $8400 for two people, Business Class, SEA - TLV (via IST), then IST-SEA (open jaw), in May/June 2024.

When the seats first opened up the fare was $7700, then they went up to $9400. On Saturday they were $8400. I looked at the seating charts and saw that a few seats had been purchased, so I acted on the assumption that the fares would not go back down to the original $7700.

I might be wrong, but $8400 is not too shabby.
Depends on the terms & condtions for refunds and changes. Could be non-refundable. Could be refundable for a fee.

Say the refund fee is $200 per ticket. When the price returns to $7700 or lower then you could book new tickets at that price and then refund the old tickets with fee. Your refund would be $8000, enough to cover the new ticket price and save $300 or more. I would probably hold out for fares closer to $6000 than to $8000 for two. I think the $8400 is a typical going rate, not a bargain but not bad and there is a benefit to booking it and getting it over with. A real bargain fare might not be so great if it is non-refundable this far in advance. Stuff happens and plans can change.
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Old Oct 12th, 2023, 09:29 PM
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Gardyloo: Great info as usual, from you.

For someone wanting business from NYC to MAD in March, cash, not miles, when should I begin looking? Thank you.
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