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Cheap OTAs - how do they do it and are they reliable?

Cheap OTAs - how do they do it and are they reliable?

Old Aug 26, 23, 1:39 pm
  #1  
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Cheap OTAs - how do they do it and are they reliable?

Looking for a simple direct WT flight back into LHR two weeks out - on BA.com itís £850, while on worldairfares.com through Skyscanner itís £580.

1. how does worldairfares manage to charge so much less and
2. is it safe to buy the ticket through them?

I understand that making changes etc will be a nightmare, but itís two weeks out so no schedule change, itís non-refundable or flexible in any case, and if it all goes wrong (last minute canx, etc) then I donít think Iíll be significantly worse off.

any experience/thoughts?
thanks
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Old Aug 26, 23, 1:44 pm
  #2  
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Some are brokers with access to specific inventory so yes it does happen. As far as possible, itís always best to book direct to manage potential cancellations, timetable changes etc, but sometimes, the difference is just too big and Iíve sometimes used Expedia with half the fare of Ba.com (and phone couldnít do any better).

not all otas are created equal but I believe some other parts of ft already discuss that.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 1:52 pm
  #3  
 
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Never use a discounting travel agent for an amount of money that would hurt if you lost it completely.

Usually OTAs work on the basis of selling ancillaries, they often come in with a low discounted fare. Most people will buy seats, bags, and so in in a one stop shop and this bumps the overall price up.

Customer service is usually pared to the bone, and irrops can be a disaster. You can very easily lose money. But for bargain basement fares it can be kind of fun picking off the cheap stuff.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 1:58 pm
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Personally I wouldn't touch them with the proverbial barge-pole. Despite the cost incentive, they are just another link in the chain if anything goes wrong. The Media are full of horror stories.

But then I'm not cash-sensitive. I just want confidence that a trip is well-protected.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 2:06 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
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Never heard of World Airfares so thought I'd look them up.

Don't think I'll be using them!
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Old Aug 26, 23, 2:12 pm
  #6  
 
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I have noticed these cheaper OTA prices are now appearing in Google Flights search results, which is what's made me become aware of them sometimes being much cheaper than paying BA direct for the exact same flights.

But I am still not entirely confident using them, so recently I have made a few bookings direct with BA and then claimed BA Best Price Guarantee... - they give you a voucher of 2x the price difference if you are a EC member. But there are T&Cs and loopholes that BA can use to get out of it, so you need to follow the instructions precisely, and despite the name, it's not necessarily a guaranteed payout.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 3:11 pm
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Slightly longer comment on use of discounting OTAs for BA bookings. First off, it's almost always better to use the BA best price guarantee where it applies (I think ex UK only). You get more than the best of both worlds then and it's really not onerous. You just run through a dummy booking on the OTA and take screenshots to show details of the fare, accepted card types, as far as possible the equivalence to the BA fare class (don't worry about that), book with BA and fill in the form, sending the screenshots which must include date and time (so best done on a PC or Mac).

If you go with an OTP - for example because you're not flying ex UK - then in general you'll get a BA PNR at some point in the process of booking/ticketing. It's sometimes a little difficult to find or listed as an "airline check in code". Once you have a PNR you can manage it via the BA site and add BAEC number. You can't generally UUA but you can select seats and bags and so on. Any refunds needed have to go via the OTP, and this is the major issue, because this can take a very long time and a lot of nagging. Generally rebookings on cancellations need to go via the OTP too, and in my experience this is a little easier. Day of travel disruption can I think be done via BA or the website. Do not expect good or expert customer service when you are bottom scraping on price.

I've never encountered an OTA who is a straight up fraud, you do generally get ticketed. Doesn't mean they don't exist, but the aggregators will tend to weed them out and not present them.

My upper threshold for an OTA booking is somewhere around £80-100 if I get a substantial saving, I wouldn't go much above that for price. I have to say I use them a lot more for non BA airlines, because of the best price guarantee which is difficult to beat. One of my pastimes is creating and flying intricate itineraries with multiple carriers and the savings from OTAs are often quite worthwhile in that context. I wouldn't book a family holiday with a discounting OTA.

There are some OTA only fares incidentally. There was a Finnair Helsinki one last year which was extraordinarily inexpensive, and I bought tickets to Mulu in Malaysia for a fraction of the MH price from a discounter.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Stewie Mac
Looking for a simple direct WT flight back into LHR two weeks out - on BA.com itís £850, while on worldairfares.com through Skyscanner itís £580.

1. how does worldairfares manage to charge so much less and
2. is it safe to buy the ticket through them?

I understand that making changes etc will be a nightmare, but itís two weeks out so no schedule change, itís non-refundable or flexible in any case, and if it all goes wrong (last minute canx, etc) then I donít think Iíll be significantly worse off.

any experience/thoughts?
thanks
Funnily enough, I used worldairfares (March 22) for a business class fare LHR-HEL.
It was a Finnair flight with a BA number. The price was ridiculously cheap... £238 return.
I ensured that I flew on the A350s so as to maximize the trip.
How they managed to get this fare no idea.
If my memory serves right, BA wanted close to £1K, and AY was in the £600+ region.
I read the terms and conditions closely, checked them out on Companies House, and the maligned TrustPilot reading the 1* reviews.
Paid on AmEx card and was getting ready to dispute the charge if goods were not delivered.
After 48 hours there was no ticket, so dropped them an email and rang.
PNR was delivered and watched the booking like a hawk in manage my booking.
Would I do it again?
Yes, if I felt the potential saving was worth the risk.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 3:23 pm
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That Helsinki fare was the one I referenced ^^ A lot of OTAs had it, including travelup and crystal I think.
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Old Aug 26, 23, 6:19 pm
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How do these discounted OTAs get inventory that sometimes do not exist directly from the airline?

Or if you can construct the itinerary at all directly on the airline website, it costs a few times over what you can get from the discounted OTA.

I haven't bought from a discounted OTA yet but as I fly more open-jaw itineraries, it will only be a matter of time and I am a little nervous.
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Old Aug 27, 23, 1:32 am
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by happychic
How do these discounted OTAs get inventory that sometimes do not exist directly from the airline?
Sometimes it's just a matter of them stitching codeshares that are difficult to do yourself, or that an airline is unwilling to do.

Once an OTA found me a significantly discounted all American Airlines metal fare that I could only briefly find on iberia.com, which ticketed it with a series of BA and Finnair codeshares.

The flights never touched Spanish, UK or Finnish soil. Only Canada-->US--->France.

Į\_(ツ)_/Į

It disappeared from iberia.com so I quickly booked it via the OTA (hop2 by way of skiplagged, even though ti wasn't a skiplag fare) and it all worked out.

Not AA, Finn, BA, nor Google Flights, nor Skyscanner, nor expedia could find it. Just when I thought I checked enough OTAs, a 4th one finds me something the rest couldn't.
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Last edited by tecate55; Aug 27, 23 at 1:40 am
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Old Aug 27, 23, 4:37 am
  #12  
 
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I believe OTA operates in the traditional travel agent way, but adding the on-line booking interface to the customer. The traditional travel can pre-purchase a number of seats on popular route from the airline at a discounted price, then sell them to the customers. The traditional travel agent can also use part of their sales commission(paid by airlines) to give back to customer in the form of cutting down airfare (suppose originally 5% commission, now they give away 3% to cut down the airfare, and only keep 2%). All these is doable because of the technology: website, emails...etc. These OTA do not have to hire as many as human beings and need much less office space, which help to cut down on their business operating cost.
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Old Aug 27, 23, 5:47 am
  #13  
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I haven't used an OTA in a long time. Once you add in baggage fees and seat selection etc, the fare difference is rarely enough to warrant the risk by not booking direct.

The threshold to go to an OTA, needs to be £100 or more per ticket.
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Old Aug 27, 23, 5:52 am
  #14  
 
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Just to add to this that you can get some great fares but depending on the selling class you may not be eligible for tier points.
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Old Aug 27, 23, 5:53 am
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I've used World Air Fares several times for cheap BA tickets. No issues.
They are quite responsive to email too in case of re scheduled flights etc. Was getting responses within 2-3 hours.
Only issue was on an AF booking and AF point blank refused to re route me after a cancellation. WAF wanted to cancel my flight and refund me minus £50 fee. I refused.
Ended up getting them to send me a final refusal from AF to re route me and booked my own re route. Sued AF via MCOL for my re routing costs and they settled in full.
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