Buying a flight

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Heavymental
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Buying a flight

Postby Heavymental » Wed Nov 14, 2012 20:04 pm

I'm looking at flights to Laos in January. Heading out for a month and my dates are fairly flexible at the moment. The other night I looked on Kayak.com and Skyscanner and there were lots of options around the £650 mark. I look tonight and there are hardly any options at that price :?:

What are the general rules on buying a flight? Do I need to buy one asap or can I afford to keep checking back for a few weeks until I see a reasonable option appear? Or will they keep rising and options diminishing up until the departure date? There's a danger I might just buy a seat to make sure I can make the trip happen but end up sat in some stop-over airport for 8 hours because of lack of options. Last night the options seemed much less arduous!

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sungod
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby sungod » Wed Nov 14, 2012 20:28 pm

pricing/availability of cheap seats from third-party websites can be very volatile, you'll find they can vanish or increase dramatically if you try to book

one reason is some sites may cache previous seat/price data, actually going out and querying every possible airline is NOT happening in real time, so what you see may be very stale, next time they refresh, or if you try to follow up, the seats vanish, pfffft

airlines often give exactly the same prices as supposed discount sites, sometimes the airlines are cheaper direct, they learned the lesson

my experience is that a proper old fashioned travel agent (there are a few left) specializing in the destination can often get much better deals than you'll find online

'spare' seats on charter flights can be a good deal, but your rights may not be the same as for a scheduled flight

some agents will line up a 'fake' hotel to comply with the charter rules, don't worry, it's just a mechanism to let you be booked, i've used this umpteen times with no problem

if you do get a scheduled flight, always join the airline's frequent flyer program, even if you're not planning to use them in future, you never know
my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny

Heavymental
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby Heavymental » Wed Nov 14, 2012 21:16 pm

Thanks. Some useful advice there. I won't panic and buy anything just yet. Will have trouble finding a travel agent specialising in flights to that area here in West Wales unfortunately.

confused@BR
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby confused@BR » Wed Nov 14, 2012 22:46 pm

We fly to Australia about once a year and Mrs S G is diligent it tracking down bargain flights. Often the price changes according to the time of year, both for when you wish to fly but also for when you book! Qantas usually has a sale around Xmas, it seems Singapore Airlines are cheaper in (our) summer; they also release blocks of seats at different times and change prices in light of their sale levels. It is very sophisticated and complex for an outsider.

We tend to book direct with the carrier as you can often choose your seats which is important when you are in the aircraft for such a long time.

I believe that some booking websites remember your last visit and revise the price they quoted previously. As others have said they may not have any seats credited to them and will only take up options when you inquire. Interestingly 'frequent flyer' and similar reward points can make booking more difficult and expensive as the choice of flight/destination may be restricted by terms and conditions.

Good luck.
'fool'

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Peat
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby Peat » Thu Nov 15, 2012 08:04 am

Yep, i reckon there is something in the cache.

Everytime i have booked flights online, i look. Sit on it and look elsewhere, then when i go back they have gone up and i usually panic and buy them incase they go up more. I've probably been done!

I have never ever been into a Travel Agent. I always saw them as a redundant service what with expedia etc, but i might give them a go next time.

tiredofwhiners
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby tiredofwhiners » Thu Nov 15, 2012 09:31 am

Heavymental wrote:I won't panic and buy anything just yet.


In my experience, flights get progressively mor expensive, the longer you wait.

All airlines have cut back capacity and the prices go up as demand rises closer to the travel day - so expecting to pick up a last minute bargain is optimistic these days as virtually all flights are sold out.

I have booked a lot of flights in reent years, for business, and I cannot recall a situation where waiting got me a cheaper ticket for the exact same route.

AchillesLeftKnee
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby AchillesLeftKnee » Thu Nov 15, 2012 09:42 am

tiredofwhiners wrote:In my experience, flights get progressively mor expensive, the longer you wait.

The missus flys a lot in the course of her work, and the above's pretty much spot on. The best bet seems to be to book as early as possible, and book direct with the airlines in question.
Mangeur

Heavymental
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby Heavymental » Thu Nov 15, 2012 13:24 pm

Sorted a flight last night. Direct with Vietnam airlines after the times came up on skyscanner. Kayak has a graph that shows the average historical cost and it compared well but more importantly the schedule is reasonable. Some of the schedules looked like journeys from hell with transfers of 8/10 hours sat in an airport. Hopefully it'll be smooth enough once i get to gatwick.

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pb21
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby pb21 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 13:36 pm

What are you heading to Laos for?

I was there April/May this year. Its a really pretty country, Luang Prabang is very nice, Vang Vieng was also interesting! Would like to go back one day...

Heavymental
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby Heavymental » Thu Nov 15, 2012 16:30 pm

Purely a holiday pb21. Only really skimmed the guidebook so far. Hoping to have a good look around and take a few pictures. Would love some recommendations if you've got any pointers.

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kleinstroker
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby kleinstroker » Thu Nov 15, 2012 18:45 pm

It would be easier and cheaper to fly to Bangkok first and go to Laos from there, a month will give you plenty of time to go from top to bottom or vice versa. I was there for 10 days this April for the second time. It's a great country and very photogenic, pretty much every cafe/hotel has wifi now so staying in touch is easy enough. Take an ipad instead of a laptop and a card adapter and you can edit your photos as you go. The roads are getting better in Northern Laos now as the Chinese govt invest there, so getting in and out of the country is pretty easy from Chiang Rai area.

The slow boat to Luang Prabang is one of those things everyone seems to do, we went in the opposite direction though and the boat was only 1/3rd full.

Air Asia fly to Udon Thani from Bangkok daily and you can get the 8.30 from Bangkok and be in Vientiane for lunch, again very easy and cheap, cost us about $40 in April for flights to Udon. You will have a great time and you can hire bikes almost everywhere for a $1 a day so do get them when you see them

cheers
My Men 2016: Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Tom Dumoulin, Tony Gallopin, Mikel Landa, Ritchie Porte, Zdenek Stybar, Alejandro Valverde

Heavymental
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby Heavymental » Thu Nov 15, 2012 23:07 pm

Thanks Kleinstroker. Once I've had a look at the guidebook I'll probably give you a shout to see your thoughts on my rough plan (i never like to make anything too firm). Reverse direction boat trip is a good tip. I certainly want to get on the river so that seems like a good suggestion to bear in mind.

No more suggestions about flights please! Mine are booked now so it's too late! I'm flying Hanoi then on to Vientiane after a couple of hours wait.

I'll be stocking up on memory cards and keeping them all in a safe place until I get back as I like to go fairly light weight.

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kleinstroker
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby kleinstroker » Fri Nov 16, 2012 15:20 pm

That's not a bad choice, but don't miss Hanoi if you get the chance an amazing city. I would also recommend a couple of days in or around Sapa.

Feel free to PM me and I'll help if I can

cheers
My Men 2016: Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Tom Dumoulin, Tony Gallopin, Mikel Landa, Ritchie Porte, Zdenek Stybar, Alejandro Valverde

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pb21
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby pb21 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 16:03 pm

We first spent a week in Northern Laos near Huay Xai as we went on the Gibbon Experience which was brilliant. It was quite expensive but definitely worth it. If you can I really recommend doing this. We then headed to see some of the northern bits around Luang Namtha.

I wish now we had got the slow boat down the Mekong from Huay Xai down to Luang Prabang, but that’s not how things were planned out. It wasn’t for another couple of months that we re-entered Laos at Luang Prabang from Hanoi. Hanoi BTW was my favourite city in SE Asia. Mental is the best way of describing it and you can spend the day drinking Bia Hoi at 20p a glass on the side of the street, good times! The plan had been to get the bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang but that was going to take 24hrs and apparently a journey best avoided, hence flying.

Luang Prabang is I guess the ‘main’ draw in Laos. We spent a week there and could have spent more. There are a few day trips you can do from there, one to some really blue waterfalls, which if it’s as hot as when we were there will be very welcome. The food in here was really good. You could spent relatively lots and get something really good, or slum it in the local type food market in the evening. I did however stupidly eat a Laos type sausage from a street seller. To put it bluntly I had some majorly violent food poisoning that delayed our onward travel for a few days!

The roads in Laos are hilarious and the driving even funnier.

Vang Vieng is worth a visit. Its good a bad/good reputation (depending on your POV) as the place loads of travelers go, get wasted/high, float down the river on inflatable tube and get injured or die. It kind of is like that but also beautiful scenery and good fun if you are careful…

Vientiane IMO is best avoided. Nothing bad about it, just nothing good either.

Generally the people of Laos are very friendly and kind and we didn’t get any scamming going on. Having said that don’t trust what bus companies tell you regarding what time you will be leaving and in what type of vehicle…

In the end we kind of rushed through Laos and I wished we had spent more time here, particularly around Luang Prabang on the Mekong.

If you have got time to get into Vietnam Hanoi and Hoi An are IMO the places to go.

tiredofwhiners
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Re: Buying a flight

Postby tiredofwhiners » Fri Nov 16, 2012 18:37 pm

There is of course a suspicion that the booking agencies are getting cute ....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20353321


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