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Topic # 164369 7-Feb-2015 11:32
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Just booking some flights for a trip to Burma/Myanmar.

Flight Centre sorted it and sent some kind of electronic link thingy that takes you to a page which shows the invoice and the itinerary.

You approve them, select how you will pay and press 'accept'.

From that point you can never re-visit the page (although it does not tell you that at the time) so you can no longer read the itinerary or see the invoice.

My wife approved the forms and selected payment by bank transfer. A message thanked her and then said the consultant would be in touch with bank account details.

That was Friday morning.

Today a call comes saying that the flights cannot be held as payment has not been received. We point out that we are waiting for bank details. They say they were on the invoice, we tell them their system no longer permits us to view the invoice and neither has it copied us with it.

No problem they say - we'll take a credit card if you add 2%. No thanks - we will pay by EFTPOS assuming no surcharge applies. 

No thanks we say - we will do bank transfer. No can do, flights cannot be held.

End result they end up losing a $4100 booking.....all because their IT system is bizarre and they are completely inflexible.





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  Reply # 1232500 7-Feb-2015 11:40
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While there is no excuse for bad IT systems, the travel agency market in general has become a low cost, low margin industry with a lot of staff who lack industry knowledge because they're paid low wages.

I book 99% of my travel online or direct via Air NZ's call centre but have had a requirement to book a few things through agents in recent years because of the complexity of flights not allowing me to easily book them online. The experiences haven't been great, and the attitude from staff at a Flight Centre store wasn't great - probably because I only wanted flights with no accommodation or insurance so she couldn't upsell me, and seemed a little miffed when she had to redo the booking twice because didn't listen to me when I explained fare rules to her and she decided she knew more than me and tried to change what I wanted.





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  Reply # 1232501 7-Feb-2015 11:47
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My wife promptly rang House of Travel and booked exactly the same flights and got them for almost $300 less than Flight Centre so it seems the only losers here were Flight Centre...!!





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  Reply # 1232503 7-Feb-2015 11:53
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We've found House of Travel to be pretty on to it, and the slight price premium of going through them to be justified in the way they deal with complex itineraries



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  Reply # 1232505 7-Feb-2015 12:00
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It's fair to say that FC won't be getting any calls in the future. Especially not when the foolish consultant had the temerity to suggest that it was my wife who was at fault and not theirs...!

Customer service? What's that then?





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  Reply # 1232506 7-Feb-2015 12:04
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My wife worked for Flight Centre for several years rising to a Managers position before moving on. Her pay as a Manager in charge of half a dozen employees and the stores finances? 45k plus commission (which are very hard to achieve at most Stores, let alone when you are also the manager). She worked 60+ hours a week, was constantly stressed, was personally liable from her commission for any loses for the store that couldn't be attributed to another staff member and generally not happy.

It constantly amazed me how little money these agents were making and how high the pressure is to upsell. Agents were free (and encouraged) to add on any amount they choose to a booking, meaning 2 agents sitting next to each other could have huge differences in the quoted price. The turnover is horrific (one store she worked at had had all staff turn over twice in a year).

My wife now books 90% of our travel herself, and books the rest through one of her ex-staff (now a manager) whom she trusts.

NB: This is my own personally opinion based on my observations. The environment may be different now.

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  Reply # 1232508 7-Feb-2015 12:25
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kingjj: . Agents were free (and encouraged) to add on any amount they choose to a booking, meaning 2 agents sitting next to each other could have huge differences in the quoted price.


Based on the one experience I had above this doesn't surprise me. I had the agent trying to charge me significantly more than what I knew the flights should have been, and she wasn't at all happy when I explained the fare rules and routing of the Air NZ fare I wanted and tried to claim that I was wrong. Eventually she wisely decided I was right.



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  Reply # 1232524 7-Feb-2015 14:34
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HoT
Best experience was buying tickets to europe which left from chch, travel agent forgot to include the last leg home to Dunedin, so when we when to pick up the tickets a 2 days before flying out we discovered we would have been trapped in Chch after flying back from Europe (agent was on holiday) and had to quickly buy tickets from ANZ.
Same agent stuffed up accommodation in Dubai. 37+C. MIddle of night. Small child pissed off with the world and no record of payment according to the hotal staff (who were very pleasant, and solved the problem with many phone calls)

Organising things by myself so much easier.


A.




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  Reply # 1232579 7-Feb-2015 16:57
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We normally do it ourselves but had some difficulty finding an airline whose site would allow AKL-BKK-RGN in a single booking. Most insisted on AKL-BKK as one ticket and BKK-RGN as a second.

We got the ticket on Thai. Malaysian was rather cheaper (funny that) by about 30% but SWMBO said no to that. Out of interest I did ask if Business Class on Malaysia was cheaper. It was $12,5000 so no...!





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  Reply # 1232647 7-Feb-2015 18:15
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Malaysia have a really good business class offering. It's about the cheapest way to get to Europe flying up the front of the plane.




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  Reply # 1232721 7-Feb-2015 21:35
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sbiddle: Malaysia have a really good business class offering. It's about the cheapest way to get to Europe flying up the front of the plane.



Although Thai wanted "only" $9,000 for the same flights more or less.

I did note that Singapore are finally introducing Premium Economy, so they have obviously decided that the Business market is getting a bit thin...!





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  Reply # 1232725 7-Feb-2015 21:39
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Geektastic:
sbiddle: Malaysia have a really good business class offering. It's about the cheapest way to get to Europe flying up the front of the plane.



Although Thai wanted "only" $9,000 for the same flights more or less.

I did note that Singapore are finally introducing Premium Economy, so they have obviously decided that the Business market is getting a bit thin...!


PE isn't so much about the business market, it's about upselling economy customers who are now faced with an environment where seat pitch and width are getting increasingly worse.






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  Reply # 1232726 7-Feb-2015 21:44
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sbiddle:
Geektastic:
sbiddle: Malaysia have a really good business class offering. It's about the cheapest way to get to Europe flying up the front of the plane.



Although Thai wanted "only" $9,000 for the same flights more or less.

I did note that Singapore are finally introducing Premium Economy, so they have obviously decided that the Business market is getting a bit thin...!


PE isn't so much about the business market, it's about upselling economy customers who are now faced with an environment where seat pitch and width are getting increasingly worse.





Yes; what I meant was they have made business so expensive (for example the Malaysian Airlines fares were $3500 economy or $12500 business!) that the gap is unbridgeable. Many corporates I have friends working in in Europe will no longer pay for anyone below Director level to fly Business, pointing out that it is usually cheaper to pay for staff to have a rest day in the hotel on arrival than to sit up front on the plane.

So PE is the way to increase income from those of us who's willingly pay a bit more but not the price of a small car more...





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  Reply # 1232760 7-Feb-2015 23:41
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sbiddle: Malaysia have a really good business class offering....



that is correct, i only flew business class on malaysia airlines. not the cheapest, but excellent service.





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  Reply # 1232763 7-Feb-2015 23:53
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I haven't used a travel agent for 10 years, various reasons but usually booking direct is cheaper, especially if you want a non standard room (Travel agents get good rates on the standard rooms, but we usually upgrade to suites etc. We have used a number of international booking sites, and when I recently went to Italy, stayed on and saved myself $300 EURO a night on a room at a very nice hotel. Cheaper than the hotel would do direct. Was a little anxious but it was good as gold. 

TripAdvisor is the site we mostly use now.

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  Reply # 1232780 8-Feb-2015 01:56
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Booking with Emirates was a really good experience. Have not flown with them yet, but looking forward to it. Easy access to all booking details and could even choose our own seats well in advance of our flight. And the prices were really good. They do multiple destinations/stop overs so would think they can do pretty customised travels. (Although my small test didn't get me results that showed them being very competitive on those kind of travels)




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