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Domestic China Air Travel - buy in US or China?

Domestic China Air Travel - buy in US or China?

Jul 6th, 2008, 07:16 PM
  #1  
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Domestic China Air Travel - buy in US or China?

I've found what sound like terrific airfares on the ctrip.com website -- at least compared to any of the other search engines I've tried. When I last went to China in '04, the rule was to wait until a few days before the flight, then purchase the tickets from a local agent, in order to get a discounted fare. Is that still the case? Or, for the sake of peace of mind, is it reasonable to take advantage of the ctrip.com advance eticket fares, i.e. are they close enough to the fares one would find once arriving in China? And - is the ctrip.com website and/or company reliable? Their website is easier and faster to use than the others, too.

I'm wondering if the electronic age has led to a new efficiency in the air ticket market, so that advance purchase is now just as good as haggling.

Thanks.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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Topping, to give it another try! Thanks.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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Ed, I can only speak from my own recent experience in China. A few weeks leading up to my trip, I obsessively (at least daily) checked ctrip, elong, etc to track fares and schedules. Since this was a special (possibly once in a lifetime) trip to China for me, and I only had a few days in each city, flight schedules that would maximize my time in each city were important to me. But I too had heard the advice that you're being ripped off if you don't wait till you get there. What happened was that as the date drew near, I saw the best fares on some of my desired flights disappear. So I booked in advance, with ticket delivery to my hotel in Beijing. And I wasn't sorry. I wouldn't have wanted to look for a travel agency in Beijing, this was much more convenient.

I did end up buying tickets while in China too, as I had left some of my itinerary open, but also from my laptop and from those same sites. Ctrip was especially great - I had to make a last minute change to a previously booked ticket, and was able to deal with an English speaking customer service agent on the phone, and the change was painlessly made to my ticket (and refund credited to my account).

In short, I felt like I paid a fare price for my tickets, and the convenience was great. Good luck!

Nutella is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 04:17 PM
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LOL typo - I meant to say FAIR price for my fare.
Nutella is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 07:58 PM
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Thanks, Nutella. So it sounds like the ctrip on-line flights were priced about as well as buying them from an agent in China might have been. It does sound like the electronic age has made the market much more efficient, and it makes sense -- why would ctrip want to allow on-the-spot ticket agents to undercut price, especially when it's all handled electronically, anyway.
EdEdwards is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 10:28 PM
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Well I can't speak for Chinese agents who may or may not have access to some special fares I don't know about. But the point I wanted to make is that it's not always practical to wait and try to find out. The way I see it, if the person sitting next to me on the plane got a better deal, more power to em
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Jul 9th, 2008, 08:55 AM
  #7  
 
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I agree with Nutella.

For the sake of peace of mind, you can get the ctrip price and see if a US agent can beat it, nothing to lose.
Shanghainese is offline  
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