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Long distance travel purchase at short notice.

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Long distance travel purchase at short notice.

Old 26th Jul 2018, 12:16
  #1 (permalink)  
Ant
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Long distance travel purchase at short notice.

Having traveled from London to Auckland a number of times to visit family there, I've obviously noticed that provided you book well in advance some very good deals are available.

But what if we need to travel at short notice, given we have elderly and unwell relatives who we may wish to visit quickly should the need arise. I thought it might be possible to purchase return trips WITHOUT obviously knowing in advance the outward or return dates. In other words buying a return ticket now and using it only when a relative becomes so unwell that we need to travel straight away.

I've called 2 of the so called long distance travel specialists in London who say its not possible, and it seems that this kind of journey is always going to be extremely expensive.

Anyone out there know how to keep costs down on this type of travel?
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 13:02
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I have no knowledge of the NZ market but unlike travel within Europe it has always seemed to me that it matters less when you book long-haul travel and most of my trips have been relatively late bookings. Even my fortnight in China last year I booked less than a month ahead for about £580 return which I considered quite reasonable. Iíve actually once booked, and seen a few times, extremely cheap last minute long haul flights.

Iíd suspect if you travel non-stop next day it will be far from cheap but if you travel via somewhere it may be more reasonable than you think, excepting school holidays, Christmas etc. Why not do a dummy booking?
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 13:04
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Only solution I can offer is that some airlines still offer bereavement fares. This used to be fairly common several years ago, but has been scaled back somewhat more recently. Have to add that this is only useful upon death of said relative, but may be an option.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 14:00
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I'm not aware of a return ticket to anywhere in the world you can buy in advance without atleast stating your outward journey date...

If any airline was to offer such a ticket, I would expect it to be be more expensive than their most expensive peak season tickets, as they will be providing you with flexiability to travel as and when you need.

I would just keep the money in a savings account so it is available to spend if/when the time comes you need to make emergency travel to NZ. Some airlines offer bereavement fares, but these are becoming more and more harder to find as airlines withdraw them.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 14:51
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A lot of long haul fares are loss making to the airline. Airlines use revenue from higher fare levels to cover the cost of discounted tickets.

A passenger making a reservation close to the travel date is often travelling because they have to rather than want to. So airlines charge more to make money. Its not just long haul. Example looking at one way fares for LHR-BHD tomorrow with BA fares range from £319-460

There used to be totally open tickets for travel inside the UK but they were the highest fare level. BA used to have standby fares between LHR-EDI/GLA/MAN etc but they were also often higher than many of the lower fare levels.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 15:59
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Camperdown airlines particularly legacy carriers rarely offer genuine discounted tickets Directly to the public in large numbers. No what they do is package up their over supply - usually in the back of the bus and dump it to the market place via the consolidators.
Btw this can have a detrimental effect on regional long haul operations however I digress !

The best way of getting a competitive fare at short notice is indeed via those same consolidators and by being very flexible on routings and carrier combinations
​​​​
Quite likely some of the most competitive will be cross and no alliance combinations and via some of the smaller hubs and indeed when going down under in particular 2 plus stops .

Now to the basic question , right across the transport industry ticket price buckets are designed to extract as much cash as possible based on demand and using some quite complex algorithms.

The most competitive ( queue cheapest in the main) tend to be available around 4 to 6 weeks out from departure. Book in advance of that and as the flight date closes in you will almost certainly pay more in most cases.

Add in seasonality and short notice and you must expect to be paying a significant penalty for your journey whether with a flexible fares operator or one of the legacy carriers. Indeed in all honesty close in the legacies are often much better value !

Your flexibility is considered worthy of a premium to any and all transport operators period.

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Old 26th Jul 2018, 16:04
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Only solution I can offer is that some airlines still offer bereavement fares
Air NZ certainly used to do this, as I once met someone on the LHR-AKL slog that was sadly travelling as such.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 17:28
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The specialists you called were over thinking your question.

The easy solution is to buy a full fare flexible ticket, (direct from the airline) that allows free changes i.e. a proper Y or C ticket for a departure date 9+ weeks from now. If you book a ticket with a Lufthansa* their full fare rules allow you to keep calling up 1 day before your ticketed flight and postpone it for a few weeks/months as many times as you want up to a maximum of 12 months. If you don't use the ticket within 12 months of the original departure date you lose it though.

The full fare ticket wonít be blow your socks off cheap, but, A) it will be cheaper than a last minute full fare ticket and B) a full fare ticket is higher up the waitlist priority in case of a fully booked flight - giving you some additional security that you will be able to travel when needed. The cheapest P and Z class tickets are the first candidates for denied boarding in the event of a over-booking.

*These are Lufty, Swiss and Austrian rules, other carriers may be different.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 20:00
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It is all subjective too on what you think is cheap. I was in Sydney a few weeks ago and 2 hours after landing was called to say my mother had suddenly passed away. I booked the next available flight back to the U.K. while nothing was stopping me getting back i didnít think it was extortionate.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 19:02
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Not sure how it works immigrationwise, but i found one-way longhaul fares that some airlines offer not overly expensive.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 20:03
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Or try new hub routes like CWLDOH with Qatar - my mate just got a SYD return late notice for £600
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Old 28th Jul 2018, 18:53
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Ant
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Thanks to all for replies and suggestions re booking last minute flights to visit unwell relatives.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that the sheer hassle of doing booking gymnastics to save a few £'s at a time which by definition is stressful enough may not be worth it, but come the time might spend a few minutes just to see what might be possible.

For reasons which I can't quite put into words, the thought of asking for a cut price 'bereavement fare', though perfectly legitimate should such circumstances arise, is ... well, er...I can't quite put into words! It's un-something, but what the something is, I can't quite put into words.

NONETHELESS!! .... I will email the majors and will let you know replies.

Edit to say the word I couldn't find above is the word 'distasteful'.
Even so, I will ask the carriers and let you know.

Last edited by Ant; 28th Jul 2018 at 18:59. Reason: to clarify.
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Old 28th Jul 2018, 19:10
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I've always found travelfusion to be a good site as they power a lot of the websites of airlines and consolidators alike....e.g. LON-AKL 6-20Aug they can do for £1205...skyscanner's best is £3813.
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Old 28th Jul 2018, 20:13
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Ant
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Thanks for the tip TartinTon.

Just called Air NZ who say they do not do bereavement fares.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 10:52
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I heard that asking for a "bereavement" fare almost always is useless - believe it or not the airlines found people were playing the game and trying to get them even though there is no bereavement. The only way it's possible is if your doctor (or better still a hospital) can be convinced to contact the airline directly.

The other way is if you work for a large company that has an account and can therefore contact the airline at a high (-er) level than you can

However, it is always worth mentioning to the airline on booking or check-in - they can be very sensitive both on boarding and on-board if your card is marked. I know peopel who were astonished at how kindly they were dealt with through their trip at such an awful time
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 14:13
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I think that getting 'good' fares is now a lot of luck. Whether you are planning to travel in 11 months or 2 days. The airline booking system now has so many variables of which you can have zero knowledge.
  • School holidays
  • Special concerts/events/conventions at destination
  • Planned promotions to reduce prices at one point in the year will push them up at others
  • Compettion on the route
  • Aircraft capacity, including planned maintenance
  • Fuel price
  • Staff disputes
These factors can vary by the week, the day, the hour. So, whilst there used to be ways for pax to double guess the airlines, now there are not.
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