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I'm in a long distance relationship, need cheap flights!

I'm in a long distance relationship, need cheap flights!

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Old Feb 10, 09, 3:34 am
  #1  
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Lightbulb I'm in a long distance relationship, need cheap flights!

Hi there,

I met a lovely girl in London just before christmas and now we are in Love each other.. It's really great, but there's a big problem; I've just moved to Lebanon!

I do business development for an online travel agency focused on accommodation bookings (we do around 1000 reservations per day), so I'm wondering if there's anyway I can leverage that role in order to get cheap flights.

If I get discounted flights then I'll be able to see her every weekend (or max every 2nd weekend), which is the minimum I need to survive!!

Your assistance & input is greatly appreciated,

Alex
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Old Feb 10, 09, 7:28 am
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Congratulations on your new relationship.
Mind telling us where you will be flying from?
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Old Feb 10, 09, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by jplus View Post
Congratulations on your new relationship.
Mind telling us where you will be flying from?
Lebanon?
Originally Posted by aaaz View Post
I've just moved to Lebanon!

I do business development for an online travel agency focused on accommodation bookings (we do around 1000 reservations per day), so I'm wondering if there's anyway I can leverage that role in order to get cheap flights.

If I get discounted flights then I'll be able to see her every weekend (or max every 2nd weekend), which is the minimum I need to survive!!
Welcome to FlyerTalk. Regarding the discounted flights, is that not something that you could ask your employer or coworkers?

What citizenship do you hold? One potential issue that immediately comes to mind is that 25 trips a year to the UK could red flags at UK immigration. If they're anything like US immigration, you might not want to tell them that you are visiting a girlfriend (unless you hold UK, or perhaps other EU, citizenship).

At USD500 r/t (what I see now for advance purchase non-stop is $1000 r/t), 25 r/t per year would be $12,500. Don't forget the cost of transport to/from the airport, especially in London; it adds up.

As for practicality, if you can afford $1000 per trip, it could work, as the travel time would be 8 hours each way (door to door). Unless you are used to regular weekly air travel, forget connecting flights.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 8:12 am
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Thanks for the welcome Ralph, and thanks for the congratulations jplus!

Ralph's right, the flights will generally be Lebanon<->London.

Since my company is only involved with accommodation, flights are something out of our field, so I can't ask them for support. I'm actually one of the top people in the company so I could definitely make things happen in this area... And I understand that agencies & employees of certain organizations qualify for ridiculously discounted flights... Which would turn the $500-1000 burden into $50-150, which is quite manageable. Is this a possibility for me or a pipe dream??

My nationality is New Zealand, and since I work in the travel industry my passport is really full & officials (even on the UK border which is one of the most stringent I've encountered) are generally quite co-operative, even if they ask me a bunch of questions.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Alex
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Old Feb 10, 09, 10:04 am
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While I don't work in the travel industry I have several friends who do. One of the complaints from those that have been in the business for many years is that by and large the deeply discounted flights that used to be available for travel agents seem to have dried up, presumably as a consequence of thin margins at the airlines.

The one exception seems to be charter flights to sun destinations, i.e. they can still get very cheap 'holiday packages' that include flights, with the understanding that upon arrival at the destination they'll take a course about the resort along with a tour etc. They'll often get discounted excursion packages as well. Presumably the rationale is an agent will be more comfortable selling a package to a destination that they themselves have visited.

My travel agent friends do seem to get upgraded from time to time though - i.e. they'll buy a 'regular price' air ticket, and then call their contact at the airline and often get an upgrade, typically from economy to 'deluxe economy.'

This represents their comments from North America. Not sure if things are different on your side of the pond.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 10:17 am
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I don't have any idea about how to bring the cost down for tickets you're buying. But one thing to consider is the FF miles you will be earning: you'll be an elite on whatever airline you're flying, and you'll probably earn enough FF miles to get free trips fairly regularly, which will bring the average cost per trip down somewhat.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 11:05 am
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Please continue to follow this thread in the FT Budget Travel Forum.
Thanks..
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Old Feb 10, 09, 11:08 am
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Can't the girlfriend come see you now and then? I'm certainly no advice columnist but if you're the only one doing the traveling you might want to think about this carefully.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
Can't the girlfriend come see you now and then? I'm certainly no advice columnist but if you're the only one doing the traveling you might want to think about this carefully.
He's a Kiwi, so presumably he can visit the UK without a visa, whereas it might be more complicated for her to regularly visit Lebanon.

Doesn't mean they can't 'meet in thee middle' though
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Old Feb 10, 09, 8:47 pm
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Old Feb 10, 09, 9:33 pm
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Welcome to FT!

Your strategy should be to buy paid tickets during low season and, planning far in advance, mileage awards during high season. Therefore, do concentrate your trips on one airline and its alliance partners.

Lon-Bey-Lon seems cheaper than Bey-Lon-Bey by about $100, so you may wish to look into buying a one-way ticket to London and then round-trips originating there.

For a weekend visit, it would make sense to pay extra for nonstops if possible.

As others said, once in a while meet up in southern Europe: Rome, Athens, Lisbon, Madrid, Istanbul, etc. Cheaper for you, very cheap for her.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 10:23 pm
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Originally Posted by aaaz View Post
Hi there,

I met a lovely girl in London just before christmas and now we are in Love each other.. It's really great, but there's a big problem; I've just moved to Lebanon!
aaaz - Welcome to FT and congratulations! I think aktchi offers some sound advice. Hopefully your g/f lives close to one of London's many airports. I'm unaware of any low cost carriers flying to BEY, however if you all decide to meet in say ATH, there would be choices such as easyJet from Gatwick or Luton. Aegean Airlines flies from Stansted for ~83, one way I notice (low season). easyJet would be less.

Personally I have no difficulty understanding that since you moved to Lebanon, you may feel initially a greater obligation to travel and make this relationship work. May I offer my best wishes.
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Old Feb 11, 09, 10:02 am
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Hey guys thank you all lot for your time & contributions they are really appreciated...

I hear what you're all saying... But I know I can do something better than clocking miles/timing visits seasonally etc. To add a little bit of background to the story, she has a high pressure job during the week, and a 5 year old daughter--so it's hard for her to leave in the weekend. I, on the other hand, am totally mobile--& London just happens to be one of my favourite cities in the world...

I was in Cairo for the weekend recently & I met a travel agent who had a small office in the airport. She was telling me she gets HEAVILY discounted flights--i.e. Cairo to London for less than a hundred bucks. If she can get those kind of fares, I'm sure I can (if I put my mind & heart into it).

Now is presumably the low season, but it's still $600-700 for a direct flight! That's just not feasible for the frequency I'm looking at...

Thanks again to you all, I have a good feeling that I'm going to be able to work this out. Call me optimistic/blissfully ignorant if you must!
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Old Feb 11, 09, 12:14 pm
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I understand where you are coming from. We can only look at published fares, but all markets have travel agents and consolidators and you should research both ends: what is available in Beirut as well as in London's ethnic travel bazaars.

Tell everyone upfront that you are looking at buying 35-50 roundtrip tickets per year and shopping for the best deal. That's quite a bit of bargaining power. I wouldn't hesitate even to call up airlines' local management and ask what they could do. No harm in asking.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
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Old Feb 11, 09, 4:38 pm
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Originally Posted by yad View Post
I don't have any idea about how to bring the cost down for tickets you're buying. But one thing to consider is the FF miles you will be earning: you'll be an elite on whatever airline you're flying, and you'll probably earn enough FF miles to get free trips fairly regularly, which will bring the average cost per trip down somewhat.
Think about a strategy of combining the usage of earned FF miles with getting yourself to Larnaca or Paphos Cyprus. I think Royal Jordanian flies from BEY to LCA.

From Larnaca it is only 20,000 to 30,000 FF miles to London (intra-european) depending on the alliance.

There are lots of inexpensive London to Cyprus UK charter deals. You might want to see if they could book you the "wrong way". Additionally, some of low cost carriers (i.e. SkyEurope) are now flying to Cyprus.
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