Flight advice

Discussion in 'OT (OFF Topic) Forums' started by Gollom, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. Gollom

    Gollom MB Enthusiast

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    I know there are a couple of travel experts on this forum, so a general question

    SuzyCute's 50th next year so we are having a longer holiday than normal. Already booked the California Zephyr from San Francisco to Memphis. Then we'll fly to Orlando to finish off.

    So we'll need a flight to Los Angeles late September and a return from Orlando in October. Are we better booking as soon as flights become bookable or waiting for a little while? Would love to go Premium Economy (at least the return trip) but not sure of funds will allow that :(

    Edit: Ideally fly from Manchester, though not essential if deal is good enough
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  2. brucemillar

    brucemillar MB Enthusiast

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    Well back in the day when I was a regular Atlantic commuter. Virgin were always (and I mean always) up for a good story with some advance notice when booking.

    So when I booked and told them it was Mrs M's birthday treat, they responded by having flowers for her on-board and a glass or two of bubbly. This was after they threw in free upgrade to Premium Economy. This was not a one off and I have heard similar tales from many who use them.
    I would say to give them a call and try that boyish charm when explaining your desire to impress Mrs G. You have nothing to lose.

    The later you leave it the less your options can vary (sometimes)
     
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  3. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    Book as soon as the flights are announced.
     
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  4. knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    There's no absolute certainty as to the best time to book flights. But in general three months beforehand tends to be the best. More importantly you're far better off if you can be flexible with the day of travel, prices can vary quite a bit throughout just one week. The variation gets greater the closer you are to the flight date because the airlines want to sell the seats that are looking less popular. But leave it too late to book and the better priced seats will have gone. It can also make a difference which day and time you chose to look at flight costs, so regular checks are worth it.

    Something else to look out for is "companion seats" whereby two higher class seats are sometimes offered for the same price or O lay slightly more than a single seat. A few years ago Mrs KE and I got business class flights to Thailand for little more than the price of economy (and better still we were upgraded to first on the way out!). But these are rare opportunities.
     
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  5. lisa110rry

    lisa110rry Active Member

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    Yes, always "tell the story". When we went to our son's wedding in Thailand in 2012, our gift to them, or rather part of it, was to book them a super dooper room in the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore for their honeymoon. We were also visiting Singapong as it used to be known, but had a rather less posh room, very nice nevertheless.

    I emailed the hotel to explain that Mr and Mrs 110RRY junior were newlyweds on their honeymoon and that as their parents we would be most grateful for any small kindness the hotel might show them. They were sought out and upgraded on their flight back to Melbourne, which can only have been as the result of my email. Charming.

    This is not quite the same thing, but similar.

    ps Suzycute doesn't look day over about 42...
     
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  6. scumbag

    scumbag MB Enthusiast

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    I would wait until Nov 27th ish for the black Friday sales. BA do a 4 day sale and flights are cheap. (I picked up 3 return flights to Dubai for 220 each last year)

    In the main, you tend to get lower cost flights and more seat choice, and if you are lucky, a lower cost upgrade option earlier, than you do nearer the time.

    And, if you use expedia or booking.com. always always check the airline website direct before booking. Airlines have a habit of putting promotions on that are not captured by websites.

    And this sometimes can give you options which a booking site doesn't always get as a choice, So sometimes you can get better flight times.

    And vice versa.
     
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  7. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    Check out 'multi-stop' flights. We've done similar routes to you a couple of times, and the internal US flight tends to cost peanuts.

    Also consider booking out of Dublin - especially if you end up paying out for upgraded flights. You obviously have the cost of getting to Dublin, but the saving even after that can be substantial. Depends if you can stand the hassle.
     
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  8. OP
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    Gollom

    Gollom MB Enthusiast

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    Hmmmm. Was wondering about Dublin, especially as I think we can clear US Customs/Immigration there?
     
  9. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    It's massively cheaper mainly because of our taxes.... Especially on the more expensive tickets as they get bigger taxes

    You need to book your flight to Dublin separately, which means that you do need to make sure that you allow plenty of time at the Airport, in case of issues. We've always stayed overnight - I know a good hotel 20 minutes from the airport with a very low cost minibus - and about half the cost of the on airport...

    We've ended up going Man -Dublin. Dublin to Heathrow and Heathrow to Vegas in the past - which misses the advantage of pre-clearance at Dublin annoyingly.

    We have sometimes arranged out return flight to London, then connecting to Dublin. We've then missed the connecting flight.... Oops. The airlines don't like this, and you have to be careful how you book to make sure you get your cases back (we fly into Heathrow or Gatwick, and book a connecting flight from London City).

    I enjoy the challenge. But oddly our last holiday the price from Manchester was the same as Dublin.....
     
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  10. gaz_l

    gaz_l MB Enthusiast

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    If it's a one-off I'd say book the flights as soon as you can. Peace of mind is better than trying to save a few quid. You can always find accommodation but flight seats are limited.

    Cheers,

    Gaz
     
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  11. tangey

    tangey Active Member

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    Booking out of dublin can be a signficant saving in taxes, which is what I've just done. You don't pay the UK APD (even if you connect back into the UK), and also the surcharges are cheaper (at least with BA). £376 in fees from Dublin versus £575 starting in LHR p.p.

    For flights that go directly from Dublin ( Aer lingus flies non stop DUB-LAX and also Orlando-DUB), you clear US immigration at Dublin airport, which means you land in the US as a domestic flight. Some major US hubs have seriously long immigration queues.


    I should add that

    a) I'm in N. Ireland. the extra 30 mins down the road to dublin, rather than flying out of Belfast to LHR, saves around £200 p.p.

    b) I booked using Avios, so the £376 was my total outlay for 2 BA biz flights
    DUB-LHR-LAX
    LAS-LHR-DUB.

    c) the devaluation of the £ with respect to the € means the saving is less than what it was several months ago.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
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  12. 400ixl

    400ixl MB Enthusiast

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    Thomson do a Manchester to LA flight I believe.

    Many airlines have sales over Christmas and New Year (BA, Virgin) so worth looking at those. Rarely do you get a good deal when booking as soon as the dates become available.

    As for Dublin, you need to be careful which carrier you use as only some clear customs there. Flights via Canada also clear outside of the US with significantly less wait time than in the US and can often mitigate the stop over time and have the benefit of the cheaper flight.
     
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  13. OP
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    Gollom

    Gollom MB Enthusiast

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    All really helpful - keep it coming!

    Now if anybody has any surplus Avios etc. they wish to contribute to SuzyCutes 50th, I'm sure she would bake you her famous carrot cake! :thumb: :rolleyes:

    I used to be a Virgin silver cardholder back when I had a proper job ;) Really miss that card (mind you, I still have the luggage tag which is undated and has got me to the PE check-in lane before now!)
     
  14. Darrell

    Darrell MB Enthusiast

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    Boxing Day is always a good day to book.
     
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  15. gr1nch

    gr1nch Active Member

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    I used to fly BA a lot to the US and have these tips to share.
    * sometimes a call to the BA exec club yields big results - be prepared to sweet-talk the agent, remembering they do really want your repeat business. I got business class LHR-SFO & Vegas-LHR (an expensive flight to book online) for a premium economy price.
    * Often I would buy a lower class (ie N-1) than the class (N) that I wanted to fly. Then kept an eye out for cheap upgrade offers from BA as the flights day draws near. Business class for 300 (LHR-SFO).
    * In JFK there was a desk (literally a table) where two BA agents sat, selling upgrades. $100 up one level.
    * I agree with the upgrade experiences when telling the hotel/airline. One time I was flying economy to Venice with a girlfriend. On the plane at the LHR gate, I casually mentioned to one of the hostesses it was a special occasion (it was going to be the gf's birthday that weekend). Next thing I know, they move us right before take off to business class and as much champagne as we could drink all flight. Even gave us two bottles (the small ones) to take with us. They clearly thought I meant THE special occasion, eg honeymoon. Needless to say it was a very pleasant flight experience and the gf was chuffed to bits.
    * Definitely try mult-trip booking, it can be cheaper.
    * This next trick got me a business class seat from BOM-LHR after BA had oversold my economy seat. I called our travel agent (who was able to book seats, whilst not paying for them) who said there was just one business class seat left at £2.5k, one way!! The fact it was booked in my name meant the checkin desk, then saw it on their system, called me out from the dead queue and handed me the business class ticket at zero cost.
    * Buying 3 months in advance is about right in my experience too.

    Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
     
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  16. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    Some hotels are better than other for celebration.

    When we got married

    Vegas - Sweet ***** Adams
    Orlando (Hilton) - Chocoloates and marshmellow's....
    Miami (Trump!) Champagne and Strawberry - we stayed one night only on a booking.com rate amazingly....

    Most of them ask if your celebrating when you check in..
     
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  17. b1g1an

    b1g1an MB Enthusiast

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    If you want to fly Virgin be sure to check out booking them through Delta who own 49% of them, easy to spot which flights are the Virgin ones.

    I did that earlier in the year to take the family to LA in Premium Economy and saved £600 a seat over the same flight booked through Virgin themselves even though they claimed to have a sale on. Literally the second you book everything automatically moves over to Virgin's system and you'll not see a mention of Delta anywhere again, miles are with Virgin too if you want.

    Flights into LA fill up quickly so don't leave it too late, Premium goes really quickly so unlikely to get an upgrade.

    The 787s are great, much better than their Jumbos, and the Premium seats are really comfortable once you get them set right for you...first time I've ever slept on a plane!
     
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