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05/04/2008 – Looking For Flight & Fare Options? Look Outside The Obvious
With so many airlines to choose from, three massive international airline alliances, dozens and dozens of start-up airlines and travelers seeking not only flexibility in fares but also schedules, the options can be overwhelming.
You want to fly from Los Angeles to London? British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines immediately come to mind. Have to fly from New York to Vancouver? Air Canada make sense right? Is your next trip between Houston and Moscow? A code-share flight to JFK then out on Delta or Aeroflot seems like the option doesn’t it?
With the recent start of Open Skies between North America and Europe and other international airline agreements the obvious choices are no longer always the most cost effective choices. We also use Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity at times to check for flight schedules and fares. Many experienced flyers using their “airline of choice’s” web site, or the web site of their preferred airline alliance. These sites generally bring up the obvious choices or carriers and routes (although I have had these sites pick up some of the most asinine route options as well), but with some leg work and use of online guides such as the OAG Guide, www.oag.org, you can search some other options on your own. Looking the alternatives up may take you an hour or two, but with a savings of a few hundred dollars on some flights and routes the hour or two online is well worth it if you are buying multiple tickets.
There are hundreds of overlooked convenient cost saving options that I see on a frequent basis when looking up information, but there are a few major routes that seem underused when speaking with not only causal travelers and business travelers, but with frequent flyers as well.
Some of these routes, as mentioned above , have airlines servicing the route people often overlook. Why do they overlook them? Well who thinks about using Singapore Airlines to fly from Houston (IAH) to Moscow (SVO) non-stop? Probably not most flyers, but Singapore Airlines is well known for it’s outstanding service in-flight. Given the option between flying Delta or Aeroflot, with connections, I’d choose Singapore Airlines given the option on this route. It might even be well worth it to fly into Houston from many regions in the United States to catch this flight rather than flying out of JFK on those non-stop routes.
Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) is common route route for business. The majority of flyers I spoke to in Southern California who fly this route for business all seemed to choose US and British Airlines. Yes, this makes sense, but of 50 people I asked, only two mentioned choosing Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand flies daily non-stop between LAX and LHR (and the reverse flight) with great service and the option of Premium Economy. While Premium Economy is not as comfortable as Air New Zealand’s world class Business Class, this cabin offers more leg room, additional seat recline, slightly wider seats and in-seat power. On this long haul flight the price difference may be well worth the cost to arrive a little more relaxed and refreshed. Having priced Air New Zealand’s fares directly against British Airways fares in economy and premium economy, NZ is generally comparable and often slightly less expensive for the dates I have chosen to research the route.
For those who fly between New York (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR)…….I have done it a few times in the past year and will do it again in a month……….Air Canada has the most obvious options, with an early morning flight that allows you to catch most all trans-pacific connections from Vancouver, an option that is often overlooked is that offered by Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong flag flying airline, uses Vancouver as a stop over before it’s long haul leg over the Pacific to Hong Kong (HKG). Having recently priced out flights between JFK and YVR the Cathay Pacific flight generally came in at around $165 less than the non-stop flight offered by Air Canada!
For those bounding around Japan you might be interested to know that US flag carrier Northwest Airlines has an extensive intra-Japan and intra-Asia route. Northwest maintain an entire flight of aircraft that are based in Japan at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT). I always seem to smile seeing a fleet of Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft on the ground at NRT. I’m not sure why, but I do :0)
Flying within Asia? Maybe Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG)? Possibly Incheon (ICN) to Tokyo (NRT)? Look at United Airlines. United’s “placement flights” are often less expensive than the flag-carrier airlines flying point to point within Asia. (I’ll be flying United Airlines between ICN and NRT next week, on April 12th)
I can go on and on, but hopefully these few examples will give you the imagination to go forth, log onto the OAG Guide, and find your own more cost effective travel plans.