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Where should I book flights to China??

Where should I book flights to China??

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Old Jan 11, 19, 3:45 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2015
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Where should I book flights to China??

I'm concerned about using an outfit like JustFly or Skylux even though their fares are very attractive. Larger more well known outfits such as Expedia don't concern me as much but maybe I'm missing news on their downsides. I've checked many airline websites and would be confident in dealing directly with them but of course prices are higher and they don't always offer a combination of airlines on various legs to get the best schedule or price.

So what is my best alternative? Is there an OTA that is know to deliver with confidence? Is a travel agent a potentially lower cost option?

I want to fly Business class in September and return in October so I'm trying to book well in advance.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 7:57 am
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First things first - do you have a China visa? They take a while to get. IIRC, cost is $160 for the visa itself, and then some more for a service to do the job.

The China country area on this site might have some useful tidbits. Worth prowling. I got some really good advice on my visa application.

Searching this site on those OTAs you mention could turn up some +s and -s.

OTAs sometimes list what looks like great fares, but they don't include taxes and fees.

A general rule is that the fewer involved in a transaction, the easier it is to sort problems. You will find a lot of people here advising you to just book with the airline.

Airline sites don't always have higher prices. In fact, sometimes they have sales the OTAs don't have.

Travel agents can offer a measure of comfort for setting up complicated and expensive plans. I doubt you will find one being actually less expensive for just flights, but it can be good to have someone knowledgeable on your side. You'll have to assess whether they are right for you.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 8:14 am
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Join Date: Aug 2017
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I just finished flying Air China for the first time because they had a very low $1200US Business fare between Saigon and Italy. That was lower than the economy fare on AF/VN though long 12 hr connection in PEK.
Service, food, wine was great. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I have just noticed that they also have some low fares in Business from USA to China.

As to your original question, I have the same concerns you do, but luckily so far, Expedia has been close to lowest, when I needed it.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 10:42 am
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Thank you for the tip on the visa. Already got that covered.

I filled out the application for myself and my wife and we got the required photos. According to what I've read on the China visa website, we cannot apply for the visa this far in advance. So I am waiting until May to sign, date and mail in the applications.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 10:59 am
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I've researched all the Chinese airlines and I'm willing to try any of them. But it does seem like Hainan comes out on top for business class.

TripAdvisor, Expedia & Travelocity I'd put in the more established/more likely to not be a problem OTA. But the best prices are on Justfly, Skylux and others that I have not used, have some very mixed ratings, and have some serious horror stories in their reviews. So I am hesitant to trust my first experience with them, costing $7000-$8000, unless someone can tell me they really aren't that scary.

I have attempted to duplicate the flights Justfly shows at the actual airline websites and always come up with a higher cost and/or unlikely connection answer. Not a huge deal but another thing that strikes me as odd is that Justfly charges for seat assignments even though I believe the airlines do not charge when making a business class res. Also I have read stories that Skylux may be illegally using other people's FF miles to book and that's illegal. (I've also read that FF miles are being stolen by hackers and are for sale on the dark web.)

On this route the cost difference can be $1500 per pax. So with that amount of savings on the line it makes me want to get the best deal but with assurance my booking, seat assignment, etc. won't get canceled, lost or changed without notice. Thus I am troubling over where to book.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 12:33 pm
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Good to hear you are working on the visa. Every once in a while, somebody comes on here that doesn't realize that necessary step. Currently, 10-year visas seem to be the norm. Do check that box, as the price is the same for that as a shorter one.

Are you using ITA Matrix to search? Matrix - ITA Software by Google It will show most of the airlines doing the trip, and help you to spot certain days and routings that are priced better. Particularly if you use the month-long feature or specific dates + or - 2 days. Much more efficient for the early rough cuts at a trip.

Kayak and Google Flight are also good general swipes, although not as powerful as ITA Matrix.

In your calculations, including the value of miles can make a difference. Salt Lake City, Utah to/from Beijing is ~12,000 miles. Business class can be 50% or even 100% more, depending on all sorts of things. At a penny a mile, that is roughly $180-$240 per ticket. The odder the OTA, the less likely you'll also get the miles.

Not a huge factor, but buying the ticket directly from the airline with one of their credit cards can yield another mile per $, or $30 on a $3,000 ticket.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 1:53 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by MrVette View Post
I'm concerned about using an outfit like JustFly or Skylux even though their fares are very attractive. Larger more well known outfits such as Expedia don't concern me as much but maybe I'm missing news on their downsides. I've checked many airline websites and would be confident in dealing directly with them but of course prices are higher and they don't always offer a combination of airlines on various legs to get the best schedule or price.

So what is my best alternative? Is there an OTA that is know to deliver with confidence? Is a travel agent a potentially lower cost option?

I want to fly Business class in September and return in October so I'm trying to book well in advance.
Setting aside the general rule that "well in advance" is not the best way to play it, there is usually a significant drop-off in fares at the beginning of September (after those dates are filed). That having been said, there are some great deals from the US to China now, and if you can find anything south of $2000 that's valid on your dates, it might be worth while to lock in.

With respect to OTAs, I'm not nearly as fearful as many people here, but before taking the plunge on lesser known outfits, I try to do a bit of research first.
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Old Jan 13, 19, 9:41 pm
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Best I’m seeing from a “reputable” OTA is $3400.

thanks for the tip on the ITA. I’ll check that out.
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Old Jan 14, 19, 12:13 am
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Originally Posted by MrVette View Post
Best I’m seeing from a “reputable” OTA is $3400.

thanks for the tip on the ITA. I’ll check that out.
This likely means that airlines are still trying to sell seats for a premium to early birds. As September gets a bit closer, I am guessing that you'll see a drop off (no guarantees, of course).
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Old Jan 14, 19, 4:06 pm
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You might consider setting "alerts". There are a number of web sites on which you can do this. You will get a message if a fare rate drops. Just search on something like "air fare alerts". You will find some of the sites easy to set up, and some sort of annoying. But you probably will find a few you like. I'd recommend at least 3 working for you.

Last edited by Romelle; Jan 14, 19 at 8:20 pm
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Old Jan 15, 19, 1:44 pm
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I will look into that. I did set an alert from JustFly and get one or two messages from them per day. But as I mentioned, I am concerned about booking through them unless forum members suggest my fears are unfounded.
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Old Jan 15, 19, 1:50 pm
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I just checked Matrix-ITA and found, as I've seen on JustFly daily price alerts, the prices have gone up quite a bit! So maybe I've passed the sweet spot already?
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Old Jan 17, 19, 8:45 am
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Originally Posted by MrVette View Post
I just checked Matrix-ITA and found, as I've seen on JustFly daily price alerts, the prices have gone up quite a bit! So maybe I've passed the sweet spot already?
Nobody has a crystal ball here, but I'd be surprised if the sweet spot was out 8-9 months. Earliest maybe 5-6 months?

There is one theory here that the web knows somebody is checking a trip/route frequently and will raise the rates for that person. I don't put much stock in it, but it wouldn't hurt to clear your caches or try a completely different computer and id.
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Old Yesterday, 5:06 pm
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I bought 2 business tickets from jfk - can - pek - can -jfk last year for $2200 each on justfly with china southern and was able to book my seat on china southerns very confusing website afterwards

The only trouble i ran into i dont know id it was justflys fault or not, china southern canceled a bunch of flights from can-pek the day i arrived including mine so they put us up in 2-3 star hotel till the next day. Also on the way back from beijing to guanzghou the check in lady kept muttering about how our passport numbers werent showijf up and i would have to call justfly and make them fix it, but another check in person i guess who is more experienced clicked on a couple things and fixed it. But i would buy from justfly again just none of the extra stuff they try to sell on the side.

China southern was also great, very friendly flight attendants and great service on landing as well.

Espcially on my my flight back to jfk i was running very late due to a late arrival from singapore and i made it on time. Got through china customs and everythint in like record time Unfortunately the baggage didnt but they told me beforehand it wouldnt and i chose to get on the flight instead of rescheduling for tomorrow. My baggage came next day and was delivered straight to me with no problem.
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Old Yesterday, 9:39 pm
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Originally Posted by MrVette View Post
So what is my best alternative? Is there an OTA that is know to deliver with confidence? Is a travel agent a potentially lower cost option?
Not sure what route or dates you are looking at, but there are <$2,200 fares on some dates from the west coast to China available through reputable consolidators for Sep-Oct travel. A traditional travel agent is your friend here.

Last edited by NYC Flyer; Yesterday at 9:49 pm
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