Booking a great airfare is harder work than it looks. We’ve all walked by a travel agent’s window and fixed our eyes on that tempting $1200 airfare to Australia. But how does an everyday globetrotter get that price?
The truth is they often don’t. Not without sacrificing some convenience or comfort. Airfares are dynamic beasts that can vary by hundreds of dollars based on your day of departure, your chosen airline, the number of stops you’re prepared to make en route – even the day of the week you book! It’s not just about Economy vs Business or even supply and demand anymore.
Enter the expert advice of your travel agent!
While an internet search can usually turn up a good deal on a basic return itinerary, our globetrotting needs often aren’t that simple. A good travel agent may be able to offer you a discounted fare based on a partnership or promotion between an airline and a land-based provider. They can point you towards a stopover that matches your interests, or steer you clear of an impossible layover through a cavernous airport. Yes, some airlines sell these, swearing that travellers can make it. 50 minutes to change planes and possibly terminals might be possible at some super-efficient airports (hello Munich), but in most cases it’ll feel more like an Olympian’s cardio workout!
With this expertise, your agent’s fares will most often be just a fraction above what you might find online. Still, an online booking leaves you there. The expert advice of a good agent travels with you, offering much greater value for your money, particularly if you’re looking at a more complex itinerary.
Hundreds of partnerships between popular airlines make it easy to go ‘round-the-world’ on a single ticket. While it’s possible to book these by yourself, a travel agent can help you choose the right combination of stops, matching up the hubs of allied or code-sharing airlines (ie: cheaper fares). They can also give advice on which airports offer the lowest taxes and fees (many round-the-world fares omit these from the advertised price) and the least stressful layovers. If you’re flying through a new city on a round-the-world fare, ask about a stopover, even if it’s just for a few days. If your ticket is priced by mileage, this could be an excellent way to include an Asian hub like Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai – all stops that are worth at least a couple of days on your itinerary.
If your plan isn’t to pull a flying Magellan, but still involves a variety of stops, again, check with your travel agent about the best fare. Take for example a multi-stop fare from Los Angeles, touching down in Santiago, Easter Island and Tahiti before returning home. While all three destinations are in the south eastern Pacific, they don’t exactly make up the busiest air routes, resulting in highly variable – but usually just high – prices.
After several popular flight search tools turned up nothing at all, this itinerary was finally quoted to us online at over $6000 for an economy fare. This included backtracking to LA before going on to Tahiti! With expert knowledge of air schedules and routes, and of the partnerships airlines hold with one other, Goway is able to sell this itinerary for under $3500. It might not be available every day, but this once again is where a travel agent can assist you in creating an itinerary that maximizes your savings while giving you enough time at each destination. A big part of getting a great fare is being flexible, particularly if you’re looking to include those more exotic stays.
Pioneers in long-haul travel, GowayAir is the air ticketing division of Goway, specializing in round-the-world, Circle Pacific, open-jaw and other hard to price fares. They can also assist with everyday economy and business class itineraries as well as group bookings.