Cheaper fair on Kayak

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Old Feb 13, 18, 7:57 pm
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Cheaper fair on Kayak

Hi Folks,
Looking for some advice here. I need to travel from EWR to WLG on Sunday Feb 18. Currently looking at a one way fair in J. Currently I can find the exact same flight combination on Kayak for about $6,200 whereas on United.com it is over $8,000. The itinerary is EWR-LAX-AKL-WLG. The only observable difference I see is that Kayak shows it as an Air NZ flight operated by UA. Is there a way I can have UA honor the price I get on Kayak?
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Old Feb 13, 18, 8:02 pm
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Not likely. One is a UA fare (not fair) and the other is a NZ fare. That they're on the same metal doesn't matter a ton.
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Old Feb 13, 18, 8:06 pm
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Theoretically, if you call UA, they can book you on the NZ codeshare and ticket it. NZ to WLG is a JV route, so UA definitely has a plating agreement that allows for it.

In practice, it might be difficult to convince an agent to book this, because UA technically isn't the overwater carrier, and this definitely isn't a common request.
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Old Feb 13, 18, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by PVDtoDEL View Post
Theoretically, if you call UA, they can book you on the NZ codeshare and ticket it. NZ to WLG is a JV route, so UA definitely has a plating agreement that allows for it.

In practice, it might be difficult to convince an agent to book this, because UA technically isn't the overwater carrier, and this definitely isn't a common request.
I suppose I don't have anything to lose by calling and asking. I'll try that.
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Old Feb 13, 18, 8:18 pm
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Have you looked at Google Flights? I've found similar type flights to be cheaper and have an option to "book with United" which then loads the flight search information for you onto United.com ... and get a ticket that begins with 016.
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Old Feb 13, 18, 8:25 pm
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Originally Posted by SFHokie View Post
Have you looked at Google Flights? I've found similar type flights to be cheaper and have an option to "book with United" which then loads the flight search information for you onto United.com ... and get a ticket that begins with 016.
I had not previously tried, but just did. It doesn't give the option to book on United.com. It says to call Air NZ. I would think that UA would have the same price (or at least honor) so that the money flows through them as opposed to booking with Air NZ... but I've been wrong before!
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Old Feb 13, 18, 9:09 pm
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Originally Posted by qwicker View Post
I had not previously tried, but just did. It doesn't give the option to book on United.com. It says to call Air NZ. I would think that UA would have the same price (or at least honor) so that the money flows through them as opposed to booking with Air NZ... but I've been wrong before!
thats not how codeshares work, though. Even on the same flights, NZ will independently determine what they are willing to sell for, and UA does the same. Sometimes, the fares match up, other times, they make different determinations. An oddity in air travel compared to most other industries, but technically they are competing while selling seats on the exact same flights. This is different than a JV, where they can and do coordinate prices.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 12:48 am
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Just note - with specific flights and dates we can give more specific advice. Despite the JV, I've noted that the UA and NZ fare tables are sometimes different.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by SFHokie View Post
Have you looked at Google Flights? I've found similar type flights to be cheaper and have an option to "book with United" which then loads the flight search information for you onto United.com ... and get a ticket that begins with 016.
There's another similar thread somewhere that I earlier posted on about this situation.

If you find the fare on Google and there is a link to send it to United it may or may not work. I've seen cases where it showed up on the first screen but when I hit "book" the system returned an error, I've also had it work.

I've also had cases where I'd already booked, but I got the lower fare notice from Google and I tried to get a lower fare credit. Even when I read the fare string to the phone agent they could not replicate the fare by hand. It seemed to work when Google sent it through, but an agent couldn't find it. I was sent to the rate desk, which also threw up their hands. UA accepted it when sent through from Google, but an agent could not make it work when entering it as a change fare. I'm wondering if the rebook feature requires the exact same fare basis and not just the same routing.

Some of the Google prices include the use of fairly complex routings that UA agents seem to have a hard time entering. For example a multi-leg itinerary like SFO-HND [break] KIX-HKG [multi-day stop] HKG-SFO may actually have a fare basis as a single round trip SFO-HKG and then the return. This is making valid use of breaks, but the UA agents have a very difficult time keying it in. A good agent who listens to you can sometimes work magic, the key it find the person. Usually when I start to say "SFO-HKG as a single leg on the outbound with a break in Japan..." you can tell they're not listening and/or unwilling to take the time to find that fare.
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Last edited by milepig; Feb 14, 18 at 11:31 am
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Old Feb 14, 18, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Usually when I start to say "SFO-HKG as a single leg on the outbound with a break in Japan..." you can tell they're not listening and/or unwilling to take the time to find that fare.
I booked something like this once. It came up fine on ITA and United.com, but I was changing a canceled reservation, so I had to call. The first agent seemed nice but got increasingly upset as I gave her the flights that I wanted. I'm not sure what she did, but she managed to price it at $2600 (vs. the correct $1100). When I said I didn't think that was right, she said something about how I was "traveling on four different days" and basically couldn't expect it to be any cheaper than that.

I declined, thanked her, paced off some frustration at having wasted my time, called back -- and got an agent who put in the flights I wanted (more or less -- I think I accepted a shorter connection than I really wanted at one airport to try to avoid triggering the second agent), priced it, and came back with $1100. (Meanwhile, I'm sure the first agent was ticked off about the customer who wasted her time and was trying to cheat her airline by flying on four separate days :shrug: ).
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Old Feb 14, 18, 1:07 pm
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In my experience, if an agent will bring up SHARES and do the [manual construction => submit for auto-pricing] workflow, that's good enough for most things and not too difficult to get an agent who will do. I've never tried to specify a full fare construction including basis; can they even do that?
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Old Feb 14, 18, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
In my experience, if an agent will bring up SHARES and do the [manual construction => submit for auto-pricing] workflow, that's good enough for most things and not too difficult to get an agent who will do. I've never tried to specify a full fare construction including basis; can they even do that?
They should be able to do it, although they'll still validate it. (Well, they should, anyway). So, if auto-pricing isn't going to work, it's going to end up back at the rate desk. Still, suppose there are multiple valid fares with the same booking code -- you should be able to purchase either of them, and the only way to specify which would be the full fare basis.

In my case, I wanted a W fare, and there were some included partner flights on the reservation. The first agent must have been trying to break the fare somewhere, perhaps trying to force the lowest available bucket on the partner flights. I forget the specific itinerary I was trying to get, but there was at least one domestic NH flight that may have caused the issues.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
They should be able to do it, although they'll still validate it. (Well, they should, anyway). So, if auto-pricing isn't going to work, it's going to end up back at the rate desk. Still, suppose there are multiple valid fares with the same booking code -- you should be able to purchase either of them, and the only way to specify which would be the full fare basis.
I've never typed this in to SABRE or equivalent; when in the entry do they key in the basis (if you know)? I always use segment-by-segment with booking codes and let it auto-price, thankfully "same booking code but higher fare basis" is rare enough I haven't needed to do it yet.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
I've never typed this in to SABRE or equivalent; when in the entry do they key in the basis (if you know)? I always use segment-by-segment with booking codes and let it auto-price, thankfully "same booking code but higher fare basis" is rare enough I haven't needed to do it yet.
I'm not 100% sure, so I'm hesitant to go on record. I think you'd do it by constructing the entire record using the fare codes that are required by the fare basis you'll request, and then, instead of auto-pricing, you'd specify the specific fare basis/bases and validate. However, I've never seen it done, and I suppose it's theoretically possible that you'd want to/need to store the fare as you built each leg, since that would allow it to associate the cities with the fare at that point in the process.

None of this is something I'd want to try to do over the phone with a UA rep, though. If I had some particular need to do this, I'd be working with a travel agent. (In fact, I'd expect any front-line agent to defer to the rate desk if I made a request like this). In practice, the only reason I can think of to do this is to increase the flexibility of a fare, and the web interface generally works well for that. Otherwise, I prefer to pay the lowest price in a given fare bucket, not a higher one.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 3:27 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
None of this is something I'd want to try to do over the phone with a UA rep, though. ... Otherwise, I prefer to pay the lowest price in a given fare bucket, not a higher one.
Haha, fair. Yeah, once with a travel agent you can get someone who knows what you're doing.

The only time I can imagine this coming up is when going for a dollar run and playing Knapsack with fares to get to 12,000 exactly. I lucked out like crazy last year and the P -> Z transition was perfect for my needs, but it didn't have to be that way.


In that vein though, it might be essentially impossible to get UA to ticket an NZ fare on an NZ marketed, UA operated flight, even if by plating rules that is technically okay (a TA would be required to plate it 086).
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