Travel Tips

I’d like some tips concerning ticket shopping. I know a bunch of you now use travel sites to buy tickets but, unless I’ve missed something, I don’t think they are always all that useful, not unless you are willing to put in the time so I’d like to know of alternatives, including kick ass travel agents you might recommend for searches like the following example.

In May I might be going to Slovenia and Croatia, possibly stopping in Paris after or maybe push it back a bit and stop in London while this conference is going on (almost certain I won’t do that part but for the sake of the example I’m adding it). I also heard that Iceland Air offers free stop overs in Iceland when flying to Europe with them. Off the top of my head, here are some possibilities:

1. Flight to: Montréal – Some euro hub (Zurich, Paris, London) – Ljubljana. Flight back the same but stop in Paris for 4-5 days.

2. Same thing but perhaps some kind of train or switching to a cheap airline like Ryan air or some other is less expensive.

3. How about compared with a flight with Iceland Air?

4. Venice is pretty close, so is Prague, maybe there’s a promotion going on that would be more advantageous even if normally it wouldn’t be the best way.

5. Maybe it’s better to land in Zagreb or Dubrovnik instead.

6. What’s the difference between leaving May 1st or 15th, promotions?

7. How about later and a stop in London? Better deals going through London both directions? Push the whole thing back and start with a stop in London?

Obviously, I could simply look for it by myself but most sites require a specific date, I’m somewhat flexible on that, I might miss a deal. Which flight do I search for? The whole way or to Zurich and then search budget flights? There are hundreds of possibilities that require even more hundreds of searches to cover all bases. Is there are a more flexible site I don’t know about or a good old fashion travel agent with experience?


Karl Dubost March 18, 2005

First, look at Web sites like Expedia for having a quote and an overview of companies flying there with the prices.

After you can try to look at travel brokers with low prices, there are a few onlines.

Go to a travel agency and see what they can do. They are humans, and it’s still working better than a computer at analysing your choices.

If you travel a lot like me, it might be worthwhile sometimes to choose a different company for 200 CAD if you get more miles on very long flight.

If you are flexible in the dates, say it. Sometimes one day or two before or after your day and the prices is cut of 400 CAD.

Last story: I booked last week a flight for
Montreal – Toronto – Seoul – Manila (2 weeks there)
Manila – Seoul (1 week there)
Seoul – Toronto – Montreal

The flights in Asia were made with Korean Airlines. I would say that it’s not a reliable company. They changed my flight plan at the beginning of the week. Making my stay in Seoul the first week. I said “bye”.

Now I’m flying with Air Canada (part of the Lufthansa mileage program)

Montreal – Vancouver – HK – Manila (2 weeks there)
Manila – Seoul (1 week there)
Seoul – Vancouver – Montreal

Another thing, a travel agency is just an intermediate with a broker (grossiste). So it’s all about the skills of your travel agent. They just take a small percentage for the service.

You have the possibility when you found a flight to take an option on it, without paying and in general for one week. After the week the flight is freed again.

So if you don’t know which travel agency to go. You can take an option, go to another one, and see if they propose something different.

Usually they will propose you different possibilites.

Patrick March 18, 2005

“Go to a travel agency and see what they can do. They are humans, and it’s still working better than a computer at analysing your choices.”

Exactly. But who’s good. I don’t want / have the time to explain what I want to do and wait for answers for 4-5 different ones. I’ll probably do it if I have to but I’m hoping for recommandations.

Karl Dubost March 19, 2005

Do you know a bank which is good? ;)

It’s more a question of trust built on a longterm relationship with you travel agent. Right now I’m trying with Carlson WagonLits at Place Ville Marie. BUT… it doesn’t mean they are good.

For my professional trips ;) there is a travel agency in France which deals with all the stuff and because there is volume and competition, she spends more time looking for the right information means best prices (but also best flight conditions, best connections, etc.)

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