Readers' Replies

Here's your chance to join the fray and be heard.  You can respond to my columns and share your own opinions and insight.

  • Will reports suffering from cutbacks in service while flying AA first class.  He asked for a refund to reflect the reduced service - do you think he got one?
  • Peter wants to know where he can find out about lower premium cabin fares such as on Finnair or Lot.
  • Another Peter agrees with the lunacy of business class service/pricing and, as a professional pilot agrees with the concerns about AA587 that are being discussed in my weekly newsletter (if you don't get this, there's a joining button at the bottom of this page).
  • Cedric is surprised to learn that BA ever offered priority baggage service, because his bags never seemed to come off any quicker!
  • Travel agent Jan suggests asking a travel agent for discounted fares - her company has heavily discounted but unpublished business class fares to the South Pacific available, for example.
  • Jim doesn't think that Business/First class fares are good value at any price, discounted or not.
  • Wayne has another strategy (a variation on strategy one) that also works well
  • Lan has an excellent idea about taking advantage of 'two for one' and 'companion' fares.

Reader's Replies :  Other readers share their opinions and experiences.  You can too.  If you'd like to add your own commentary, please send me a note.



Will from the East Coast writes :  That BA service reduction is unf****ing believable! I am hardened by the morons who run the world's airlines, but that takes the cake.

I flew AA first class from LGW to RDU in early October (I've done it several times recently, but the other trips were prior to Sept 11th).  In-flight personnel told me that AA had removed the caviar, all magazines, and certain movies "in poor taste" (their description) such as "Pearl Harbor" due to cost reductions.

I asked them why I had paid $8467 round trip for services NOT rendered and whether I would get a refund. You know their answer already...

Peter from the south of the US writes :  I enjoy your column through JoeSentMe.  Regarding finding lower fares on other, less-known airlines, it seems that most of the travel search engines, only provide the fares on the main airlines, not Lot Polish, or Finnair, for example.  Is there a way to find these other airlines that are offering lower fares?  Is OAG the best source for that, or are there better web pages for that? Thank you for your assistance.

David replies :  I understand your frustration.  After suffering without a proper professional travel agency CRS for the better part of a year, I ended up making an arrangement with a local travel company and now have a proper CRS program on my computer (Amadeus Vista) - it connects with the airline computer through my normal internet link and gives me instant and easy access to everything I'd ever want to know about most airlines.

To answer your question, you can find these fares on web sites such as Travelocity (my current favorite) but if you don't know how to make the website generate such fares, it might be difficult to find them.

Really, the easiest thing to do is to work with a good travel agent.  If you become a loyal and regular client, and if you take the time to explain what you do and don't want, what you are prepared to consider and accept, etc, so that the travel agent really understands you and your requirements, then this still remains the best way to book and buy travel.

Lastly, if you do create a preferred relationship with a travel agent/agency, maybe you too can then get them to provide access to their CRS through your own computer, so you then have the best of both worlds - the ability to research and even book your own flights, combined with the assistance of a real person (much nicer than trying to go through customer service on a web travel site!!!).

Peter from Australia writes :  I agree completely re your comments on BA's ridiculous changes to Business Class benefits. Why would anyone pay $6,000+ to travel BA business class when you can travel the same itinerary on UA in Y class for $300 (and get a bulkhead or exit row seat into the bargain). I have traveled several times in BA's business class offering and would never do so again if I were paying (note that I carry a British Passport).

I have just returned to Australia from a trip to Manchester (to visit my mum) flying UA/BD and I must rate British Midland's service most highly and UA's very poorly (if their flight attendants were remotely interested in serving passengers it would be an improvement). I think the death of the big airlines (especially UA, will be their remarkable indifference to one thing that keeps them going, their passengers).

PS, I think the NZ article on the AA 587 Airbus crash is spot on (it's worth noting that I am a pilot and worked for the Australian Civil Aviation Authority for over 7 years).

Cedric from AOL land writes :  As a previous regular BA biz class traveler it came as a surprise to know that they did give biz baggage preference - its never been obvious to me or my wife, another regular, in the past!!!!!!

David replies :  Same here.  I would estimate that as much as half the time, my priority tagged luggage did NOT arrive on the luggage belt any earlier than regular baggage.

Jan from Abel Tasman Tours writes :  There's another strategy as well.  Ask your travel agent.  We have, for example, extremely discounted non-published business class fares to Australia and New Zealand.

David replies :  The concept of 'ask your travel agent' is actually going to be one of the next three strategies.  I've liked to your site and email in case any people heading to Australia/New Zealand want to get in touch.

Jim from Tucson writes : You might save 60%, however, you gotta be nuts to pay $3-4,000 to fly 6-8 hrs.

Wayne from Kalamazoo writes :  Loved your article and have been a user of Strategy One for quite some time.  It is great to see you spread the word.  I am an independent consultant who flies business class to Europe 10-15 times per year so the savings are very substantial.

My home airport is Detroit, a great misfortune in itself, but that's another story.  Another trick I use frequently is to fly the out leg as DTW-YYZ (buy a return ticket on Northwest with a Saturday night stay for about $200.00 and use only the outbound leg).  Stay over in Toronto, see a show, have a great dinner and then use your one way business class ticket from Toronto to London, Frankfurt, Milan, Munich or what have you.  Canadian business class fares are roughly the same as business class fares originating in Europe. This means that you can cover the costs of entertainment, meal and hotel in Toronto and still come out at least $1000 ahead.

Lan from Camarillo, CA, writes :  Has anyone thought to setup a web page which matches passengers to take advantage of "two-for-one" or "companion discounts"?   While the airlines would scream bloody murder, I suspect it's legal for two folks to meet and plan to travel together.

David replies :  This is an excellent idea and one that I have had in the back of my own mind.  The challenge is that it can only work if a very large number of people participate (otherwise you'll never find a partner to match up with) and growing such a large 'critical mass' of people onto a website is a difficult task.  Maybe one of the mega-travel sites would like to do this as an added customer service.

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Copyright 2001 by David M Rowell.