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Airline Mismanagement

How to save thousands of dollars on your international travel

You're not obliged to pay any more than the absolute minimum legal fare that applies to your travels.

Of course, the airlines would like you to pay top dollar, and so they do all they can to obscure your understanding of how to beat them at their own game.

 
 
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How to Save up to 60% on Business and First Class International Air Fares

Enjoy an excellent business class service, and at less than half the 'normal price' when you fly on airlines such as Lot Polish Airlines using Strategy 2.

Part 1 of a 3 part series - click for Parts  One  Two  Three

 

 

The airlines are charging more and more and more for their premium cabins, but providing less and less and less (read about the disgraceful developments at BA below....).

So why pay the ridiculous prices they ask for their premium cabins when there are perfectly legal ways that they themselves have created to allow you to fly for very much less? Here are the first three of seven 'insider secrets' to help you save many thousands of dollars on your future travel.

Strategy 1 : Reverse Direction Fares

We all know that airfares are not based on what it costs the airline to fly us where we're going, but rather on how much it thinks it can extract from our wallets. Sadly, airlines often seem to believe that US passengers will happily pay much more for their travels than will passengers from other countries.

However, you can use this discriminatory practice to your advantage.  When you're traveling on business and first class tickets, buy only a one-way ticket from the US to the international destination and then buy a one-way ticket from the international destination back to the US, thereby taking advantage of the lower fare that applies from the other country.

Better still, if you know you're going to be traveling again in the future, buy entire roundtrip tickets from the other country, saving even more. The chances are that these tickets will allow date changes at any time and with no penalty, so you're not committing yourself to actual travel dates, just to the fact that you will repeat the journey some time in the next twelve months.

Here are some examples of business class fares offered by leading airlines with nonstop service (there are invariably cheaper fares for inconvenient itineraries and less well known carriers - see the next strategy). This table contrasts the US price with the foreign price (also expressed in US dollars) for the exact same itinerary but in the reverse direction :

Itinerary US Price (OW/RT) Foreign Price (OW/RT) Save up to
NYC-LON 3630/7260 3145/4112 $3148
LAX-LON 4293/8598 4832/5996 $2602
ORD-FRA 3866/7732 2845/2925 $4807 (60%!)
LAX-SYD 3928/7699 2927/4474 $3225

 

Taking advantage of these foreign fares is really easy, and in most cases, your local travel agency can issue the tickets for you (you don't even need to be in the foreign country to get the ticket). But, because this is not the normal or default way of pricing itineraries, you'll probably have to ask them to over-ride their normal CRS pricing.

Strategy 2 : Fly a Different Airline

It pays to shop around! Although air fares seem to be - by some amazing coincidence - identical amongst all the major carriers within the US, you'll find that some of the less well known airlines offer much lower fares than the 'major' name brand airlines do on international routes. Alternatively, even major name brand carriers will discount on routes where their itinerary requires a connection and they're competing against other major carriers who offer nonstop service.

Here are some examples showing the business class fares typically charged by the major carriers and then two of the lowest fares offered by carriers - sometimes also major carriers (eg Singapore and Japan Airlines) with less direct routes, or perhaps less well known carriers but still of a high safety and service standard (all the other airlines shown!) :

Itinerary Major Carrier Other Carrier Discount Carrier
NYC-LON 7260 2598
2698
Lot Polish
Finnair
LAX-LON 8598 4100
6850
Lot Polish
Singapore
ORD-FRA 7732 2678
3698
Lot Polish
Kuwait Airways
LAX-SYD 7699 6026
6244
Japan Airlines
Asiana

 

Strategy 3 : 'Noah's Ark'

Just like Noah loaded the animals two by two, any time you're flying somewhere with a second person - maybe a colleague or maybe a partner - you might be able to take advantage of an American Express Platinum Card 'two for one' deal. Don't have an Amex Platinum card? No big deal - call Amex and ask for one, and tell them you want to immediately use it to book a two for one travel deal!

On many major international routes, American Express has amazing deals with leading carriers (for example, award winning Star Alliance member Air New Zealand, for travel to New Zealand and Australia) that will enable two people to fly for the price of one. If you both needed to make the journey, then you've just saved 50% from the regular published airfare!

BA's Shameful Curtailment of Business Class Benefits

British Airways announced, earlier this week, that it can no longer afford to provide priority luggage service for its Business Class passengers! Global Service Standards Manager Tony Mahood said management had discovered a "substantial cost saving" by reducing the production of brand luggage labels. Only first class passengers will now receive a priority tag. (I wonder how soon they'll discover another substantial cost saving - coach class meals. And maybe coach class seating as well....)

Although at least one BA senior manager described this as 'a blow to the reputation of the company at a time when we are trying to attract passengers back', an official BA spokesman resolutely claimed 'These are hard times and hard times call for hard measures. We have to look at all areas to see where we can make savings'. Full story here.

Am I the only one to consider this a disgrace - passengers who pay as much as a $9000 premium (over the lowest discounted coach class fare) are told that this extra $9000 is insufficient to cover the few extra cents that it costs BA to provide priority handling on their one or two suitcases!

Read more in Parts 2 & 3

Be sure to read the other two parts of this series for more strategies, including a strategy that will get the airline offering you discounted fares itself! Plus, a 'special Christmas bonus' tip - how to fly on the Concorde for less than half its published fare.
 

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Originally published 14 Dec 2001, last update 15 Oct 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
Part 1
Part 1 reader replies
Part 2
Part 3
All About Round the World and Circle Pacific Fares
 

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