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Domestic airfare

Domestic airfare

Old Jun 3, 23, 2:47 am
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Domestic airfare

When do you guys suggest buying domestic airfare for flights within China ? Excluding peak chinese holiday periods, are the prices pretty stable, or do they increase fairly steeply ? Wondering if this is something I can do just 2-3 months in advance, or if it's really "as early as possible", as the fares for year-end seem kind of high at the moment.
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Old Jun 3, 23, 3:29 am
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Originally Posted by mlin32
When do you guys suggest buying domestic airfare for flights within China ? Excluding peak chinese holiday periods, are the prices pretty stable, or do they increase fairly steeply ? Wondering if this is something I can do just 2-3 months in advance, or if it's really "as early as possible", as the fares for year-end seem kind of high at the moment.
Buy a few days before the flight for the best deal.
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Old Jun 3, 23, 3:43 am
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Yep, China domestic is different from the rest of the world for flight pricing - I'd say never book more than 2 weeks in advance, I'd usually book about 7-5 days out. I once booked 10 days out but the price dropped so much that it was worth paying the cancellation fee and rebooking at the lower fare.

Also, book through Trip.com. A lot of the other western search engines never find the cheapest fares, even the international versions of the airlines' own websites. Trip.com service is generally very good.
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Old Jun 3, 23, 4:17 am
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Originally Posted by travelinmanS
Buy a few days before the flight for the best deal.
Originally Posted by Deltus
Yep, China domestic is different from the rest of the world for flight pricing - I'd say never book more than 2 weeks in advance, I'd usually book about 7-5 days out.
First or economy?

​​​​​I'd say for First class cabin this is not my experience.

100% agree with trip.com/ctrip comment though.
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Old Jun 3, 23, 4:32 am
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Originally Posted by narvik
First or economy?

​​​​​I'd say for First class cabin this is not my experience.

100% agree with trip.com/ctrip comment though.
Works for business and economy fares on the trunk routes like Shanghai flights to Beijing or Shenzhen. Im not really flying to the smaller airports which have fewer daily flights so Im not sure for business fares. I could see those being sold out closer to the date of travel because they have 8 or 12 seats only to sell on those smaller planes.
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Old Jun 3, 23, 2:49 pm
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If you book on ctrip, they charge you a 3% fee for non-chinese cards
However the price might be cheaper than the trip.com price even including the 3% fee
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Old Jun 3, 23, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by gudugan
If you book on ctrip, they charge you a 3% fee for non-chinese cards
However the price might be cheaper than the trip.com price even including the 3% fee
Booking on Ctrip also requires you to have any customer service issues resolved using Chinese. Might not be a problem for most on this thread but just a call out in case the OP cant speak Chinese.
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Old Jun 4, 23, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by travelinmanS
Booking on Ctrip also requires you to have any customer service issues resolved using Chinese. Might not be a problem for most on this thread but just a call out in case the OP cant speak Chinese.
Not in my experience.
My " most traumatic" Ctrip booking was years ago when a typhoon hit Xiamen, and my MU or CZ flight to BKK
the next morning was cancelled. Ctrip managed a cancellation and re-booking onto TG when the airport re-opened,
all in English and even with a slight refund.
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Old Jun 4, 23, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by IluvSQ
Not in my experience.
My " most traumatic" Ctrip booking was years ago when a typhoon hit Xiamen, and my MU or CZ flight to BKK
the next morning was cancelled. Ctrip managed a cancellation and re-booking onto TG when the airport re-opened,
all in English and even with a slight refund.

yeah, I don't think it matters.
trip.com was done to make it 'look' more 'international', that's about it. the underlying support/engine is pretty much the same, IME.
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Old Jun 4, 23, 2:52 pm
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Thanks for the hints, very helpful.

Flying Economy, can speak and understand but reading/writing is a different story. So the chinese ctrip site won't get me very far.

I don't know if I have the guts to book last minute though, considering I'd plan to join a guided tour and stuff and would hate to lose the schedule i want. Perhaps a month before I'd reserve the plane ticket then.....
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Old Jun 5, 23, 3:24 am
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Originally Posted by mlin32
Thanks for the hints, very helpful.

Flying Economy, can speak and understand but reading/writing is a different story. So the chinese ctrip site won't get me very far.

I don't know if I have the guts to book last minute though, considering I'd plan to join a guided tour and stuff and would hate to lose the schedule i want. Perhaps a month before I'd reserve the plane ticket then.....
What route(s) are you thinking? I often fly to some pretty unimportant cities, and even they have 10+ flights/day from Beijing and Shanghai. I can't recall the last time I've seen a domestic China flight that was actually sold out. I usually end up with discounts of 30-70%, booking 2-3 days in advance, regardless of class. Full fare (0% discount) does happen but just don't take those flights unless you really want them. Bear in mind that even full isn't crazy expensive in China; in fact, full fare was the only option (for most people) until about 20 years ago.

Last edited by moondog; Jun 5, 23 at 3:31 am
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Old Jun 5, 23, 4:56 am
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The trip.com app has a calendar that shows you the lowest price on your chosen routing for the next six months.

If you search your desired routing youll see that buying a week or less in advance is the right strategy.
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Old Jun 5, 23, 12:09 pm
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I have also had pretty good results with customer support in English with ctrip in the past. Some agents have a better grasp of English than others, but none resulted in a hang up and call again because of a language barrier.
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Old Jun 5, 23, 7:10 pm
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Is it better to fly from Shanghai to Beijing or take the fast train?
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Old Jun 5, 23, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Davvidd
Is it better to fly from Shanghai to Beijing or take the fast train?
It depends on quite a few things.
The train is generally more reliable as far as on-time arrival is concerned.
I have done plenty of train trips on this route, and prefer it to flying, but I usually book BUSINESS class train tickets (better than FIRST).
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