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706 posts

Ultimate Geek


# 260030 7-Nov-2019 15:04
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Hi All,

 

Recently went to book some flights to Aus for a larger family group, approx. 20 people, AirNZ had some good flights deals in their 72 hr special. As you can only book ~7 people per booking online I thought ah House of Travel are showing some similar rates on their Mix and Match i'll go in and book all 20 through them.

 

 

 

This is what happened next:

 

1. Mix and Match is part of House of Travel(HOT) but HOT cant access those prices and said would be different. 

 

2. Agent wouldn't give me a straight up price said they needed to enter all the details to check if there were enough seats at the good rates.

 

3. After waiting for them to enter everything the price ended up being around $60 more pp than through the mix and match site. *sigh*

 

4. Told them we weren't interested at that rate we will just go online.

 

This is where the real fun began!! As the agent had reserved the seats we could no longer go online as airnz and mix and match weren't showing those seats as being available at the deal rate anymore!!

 

Long story short we asked the agent to release the seats as we did not want to proceed with them, they say they did but the deal seats never showed back up in airnz online booking or anywhere!! The sale has lapsed and now i'm furious!

 

Anyone else had this happen, I feel like I have been scammed by the agent and seems like anticompetitive behavior?

 

Does anyone know how this works? should all the reservation and un-reservation of seats be instant?


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  # 2349484 7-Nov-2019 15:04
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Allow me to introduce you folks to our new travel community: TravelTalk NZ.

 

We hope to see you there!

 





I am the Geekzone Robot and I am here to help. I am from the Internet. I do not interact. Do not expect other replies from me.



33 posts

Geek


  # 2349506 7-Nov-2019 15:51
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I think it's the airlines themselves that up their prices when they receive signals of high demand for a particular date.

 

 


 
 
 
 


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Uber Geek


  # 2349507 7-Nov-2019 15:57
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Sbiddle will chime in here somewhere. But as above.

 

Imagine a plane chopped up into 3 or 4.

 

The front rows, (more space etc) your expected uptake of business/Koru members.

 

Followed behind by extra room spenders or 'works' customers (to keep them together for rolling out food etc)

 

Then online sales class. Each of these areas will have a number of seats (class) pre-allocated with agents in mind. The online sales taking the rest.

 

Preference to fill the window and isle seats first. With group bookings taking up the middle/rest.

 

I suspect your groups wouldn't be seated so close together once you got to seat select on a sale. Nor would an agent be able to flog them overtop of the standard system allocation. Or if they did, would be at a premium price or empty plane (outside the peak sales fill-a-seat attempt) so the system can re-allocate the ones that were pre allocated randomly, or work around where a customer paid for a specific spot.

 

 




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Ultimate Geek


  # 2349564 7-Nov-2019 16:37
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Oblivian:

 

Sbiddle will chime in here somewhere. But as above.

 

Imagine a plane chopped up into 3 or 4.

 

The front rows, (more space etc) your expected uptake of business/Koru members.

 

Followed behind by extra room spenders or 'works' customers (to keep them together for rolling out food etc)

 

Then online sales class. Each of these areas will have a number of seats (class) pre-allocated with agents in mind. The online sales taking the rest.

 

Preference to fill the window and isle seats first. With group bookings taking up the middle/rest.

 

I suspect your groups wouldn't be seated so close together once you got to seat select on a sale. Nor would an agent be able to flog them overtop of the standard system allocation. Or if they did, would be at a premium price or empty plane (outside the peak sales fill-a-seat attempt) so the system can re-allocate the ones that were pre allocated randomly, or work around where a customer paid for a specific spot.

 

 

Thanks for this, so the HOT reserving the seats has signalled to the system that these dates/times might be busy therefore raise the prices now and keep them up... great!

 

In terms of the groups not being seated together that's no big deal, basic requirement is that we all get on a flight on to and from aus for around a week, dates reasonably flexible and at a good price. One person is paying for all 20 people, so a $60 fare difference times 20 stacks up quick.


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Uber Geek


  # 2349567 7-Nov-2019 16:44
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Shoes2468:

 

Thanks for this, so the HOT reserving the seats has signalled to the system that these dates/times might be busy therefore raise the prices now and keep them up... great!

 

In terms of the groups not being seated together that's no big deal, basic requirement is that we all get on a flight on to and from aus for around a week, dates reasonably flexible and at a good price. One person is paying for all 20 people, so a $60 fare difference times 20 stacks up quick.

 

 

Quite possibly. Or they were never really available to HOT and they were reserving seats on a flight that was not valid for said specials, but the best they could. And in the time a total of 7-20 was no longer available. (note when you look at those specials. Often only 1 or 2 options during each day are valid, then the price skyrockets for the others). Sometimes there are only 10-15 total seats at cheap rate to fill a small section for balance.


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Uber Geek


  # 2349569 7-Nov-2019 16:49
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Paging @sbiddle to quash theory and clarify what agents can and can't do when talking to ARS


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  # 2349570 7-Nov-2019 16:52
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I'm not sure why you went to the travel agent in the first place. If the seats were available then why didn't you just book them?

Outside of that airline pricing is dynamic and changes very quickly. The airline is attempting to fill the aircraft but also maximise profits so it plays with the pricing to achieve both these goals.

 
 
 
 




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Ultimate Geek


  # 2349600 7-Nov-2019 17:49
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Handle9: I'm not sure why you went to the travel agent in the first place. If the seats were available then why didn't you just book them?

Outside of that airline pricing is dynamic and changes very quickly. The airline is attempting to fill the aircraft but also maximise profits so it plays with the pricing to achieve both these goals.

 

 

 

For advice mainly, its not everyday your booking for 20 people.

 

Also as said above if you book online you don't know if the first 7 will be cheap then the rest will be expensive and as you can only book 7 at a time....

 

where as the travel agent was able to reserve 20 seats at the deal rate, but by the time they put on all their extras it wasnt "Cheap" anymore.

 

But yes I have learnt my lesson re travel agents.


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  # 2349606 7-Nov-2019 18:04
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I'll reply later... Lots of questions and incorrect assumptions made by the OP which is probably going to take a good 15 mins at least to explain how ticketing systems and GDS work to answer the questions.

 

 


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  # 2349667 7-Nov-2019 19:15
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OK where do I start..

 

Airline booking systems are incredibly complex but also straight forward. They don't however work in the way you presumably think they do.

 

Rather than spend lots of time explaining things I suggest reading my Traveltalk post that explains how ticketing works https://traveltalk.nz/news-opinion/airline/air-nz-cuts-entry-level-domestic-airfares/

 

When you search online using the Air NZ website you can select up to 9 people on a single ticket. This is because Air NZ only release a maximum of 9 fares at a time to their own systems and to other GDS platforms (Sabre, Gallilio and Amadeus) that travel agents use to make bookings.

 

Hopefully you understand from my Traveltalk post how there are such a myriad of booking classes available on a plane - what's important is that for a group booking (whether that be a group of 2 people or 20 people) that all passengers need to be on the same booking class to be linked together on the same PNR. This means that to have 20 people on a group the booking class must be identical (but the fare basis can be different - ie you can mix & match a seat, a seat+bag, works as these are not a different booking class but simply a fare basis).

 

When you saw a sale on flights to Australia these would have been in promo booking classes (typically S & L) which are discount booking classes that are only available when a special is on. Every day ("long term") classes on TT routes are G, W, V, Q, H, M, B, Y. Each of these long term fare classes has a fixed price associated with it that only changes when Air NZ change their long term prices. On a 168 seat A320 TT service there will be a mix of these individual fare booking classes available ranging from the cheapest G fares up to the most expensive Y fares.

 

So when you see a special advertised to Australia and try and make a booking (probably in S or L class) there will always be limited availability of those fares. Depending on how far out the flight is and how many seats are sold there might be 5 seats (as an example) available at this price It's highly unlikely you'd ever be able to book 20 seats in a group booking at that price without Air NZ approving this for you, and as explained above there can be no more than 9 of these fares available to book at any one time either online on the Air NZ website or via GDS.

 

The travel agent who did your booking quoted you the best available fare which would allow 20 passengers to be booked in a group booking which meant this would not be at the sale fare price as there would not have been 20 sale fares available in the booking class the promo fares were in.

 

Travel agents holding seats in GDS and releasing them does not always result in the immediate return of that inventory. I won't go into detail here why that happens because it's complex.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2349670 7-Nov-2019 19:21
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Shoes2468:

 

Handle9: I'm not sure why you went to the travel agent in the first place. If the seats were available then why didn't you just book them?

Outside of that airline pricing is dynamic and changes very quickly. The airline is attempting to fill the aircraft but also maximise profits so it plays with the pricing to achieve both these goals.

 

For advice mainly, its not everyday your booking for 20 people.

 

Also as said above if you book online you don't know if the first 7 will be cheap then the rest will be expensive and as you can only book 7 at a time....

 

where as the travel agent was able to reserve 20 seats at the deal rate, but by the time they put on all their extras it wasnt "Cheap" anymore.

 

But yes I have learnt my lesson re travel agents.

 

 

OK so you never actually had a price for 20 seats online? As per Steve's post above you would have been highly unlikely to be able to buy 20 seats at the discounted price.

 

It's also not realistic to expect a travel agent to provide a service for free. There are costs involved for them and they need to make a profit otherwise why would they do it?

 

It's not like airlines have a huge margin to give to travel agents.


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  # 2349719 7-Nov-2019 19:35
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when grabaseat releases tickets the time taken to sell is counted in minutes to hours.

 

by the time you got the travel agent to give you a quote it's gone.

 

nothing to do with the travel agent holding your seats.





Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.




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Ultimate Geek


  # 2349847 7-Nov-2019 21:40
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Batman:

when grabaseat releases tickets the time taken to sell is counted in minutes to hours.


by the time you got the travel agent to give you a quote it's gone.


nothing to do with the travel agent holding your seats.



The flights weren’t that cheap,



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Ultimate Geek


  # 2349853 7-Nov-2019 21:54
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Thanks @sbiddle , read and understood.

The agent booked/reserved seats in groups of 5. When getting to the last group he said oh yes there’s enough only two spare left over in that price. So I don’t doubt there was a few more than 20 seats available. We are booking for September 2020 so those flights really have only just started to appear in sale flight date ranges.

Don’t expect travel agents to work for free, but do expect them to to be up front about what their fees are.

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  # 2349938 8-Nov-2019 07:11
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Shoes2468: Thanks @sbiddle , read and understood.

The agent booked/reserved seats in groups of 5. When getting to the last group he said oh yes there’s enough only two spare left over in that price. So I don’t doubt there was a few more than 20 seats available. We are booking for September 2020 so those flights really have only just started to appear in sale flight date ranges.

Don’t expect travel agents to work for free, but do expect them to to be up front about what their fees are.

 

I would still be very surprised there would be 20 seats available at entry level price on a flight even for Sept 2020. It would be hard for you to know but it wouldn't surprise me if the agent didn't have to book across multiple fare classes to get the 20 and simply averaged things out to get the $60 extra per person.

 

If there a reason why you didn't just call Air NZ directly? They have a team that specialises in group bookings and the size of your booking would entitle you to use this.

 

 


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