One of the questions we’re often asked about, especially with tickets being so easy to buy on the Internet, is how business travel agents achieve cost savings versus the fares available online? To find out exactly how it’s done, we spoke to one of our most experienced business travel agents, Rob Davenport. With 20 years experience in airfare construction and ticketing, Rob is an expert in saving money on flight tickets. Here’s the inside track on how he does it…
#1 Mix applicable airlines
It’s a common misconception that you can’t mix airlines on return tickets because it makes fares more expensive, but this is only sometimes the case. Some airlines have alliances with others, and where these partnerships apply, you can mix them up as much as you want to. For example, take using Star Alliance on a ticket to Zurich. Instead of travelling in both directions with Swiss, you could travel out on a direct flight with Swiss Airlines and back on an indirect flight with Lufthansa. A great workaround, when the the Swiss return flight is heavily booked.
#2 Look for premium fares (Yes you read that correctly!)
Lots of corporate travel policies prevent employees from booking premium economy, business and first class flights, but they can sometimes yield lower prices. Of course the majority of the time, these fares will be more expensive than the class below, but there are occasions when a premium economy, business or first class ticket offers a lower fare than the class requested. Speak to your travel management company on how this situation is managed to make sure you’re not paying over the odds when the travel policy rules make it difficult to obtain the best value.
#3 Re-check availability to get cheaper classes
When you book direct, you book your ticket immediately, there’s no changing your mind. When you use a business travel agent, they can usually hold your reservation for you for a number of days while you double check your arrangements. It also means we can keep checking availability on your preferred flights and swap you over to a cheaper ticket should one become available. We have a handy tool that does this automatically for us.
#4 Check out the codeshares
Codeshares are where two or more airlines share the same flight. Each airline publishes and markets the flight under its own airline designator and flight number as part of its published timetable or schedule, although it’s actually operated by only one of the airlines. For example, KLM and Delta codeshare, and it can sometimes work out cheaper to book the flight on the codeshares flight numbers instead of the operating airline e.g. book the KLM flight on the Delta flight number.
#5 Use discounted fares
As business travel agents, we have access to a range of reduced fares that are negotiated with the airlines for our customers. These fares can provide big savings compared to the published fares so it’s important these are considered when evaluating the options.
#6 Don’t pay unnecessary taxes
If travelling to the US, we always make sure we cross refer the US internal tickets to the international ticket so we can remove the duplicated tax which doesn’t need to be paid twice.
#7 Can you be flexible?
As well as the tips above, we always encourage our customers to consider alternatives to reduce their travel costs. This may be looking a day or flight schedule either side of the date requested, using an alternative airport or even using a completely different mode of transport such as a car journey or train instead of a flight.
Using a good travel management company will help you save money through using their expertise and know-how to find you the lowest ticket prices for your trips. Not only that, but they will also save you the time it takes to research, compare and book flights leaving you more time to focus on making your business trip a success.