Topic of the Week: How Do You Want to Buy Plane Tickets?

This has been a heavy week talking about how airlines sell tickets, so for the topic of the week, let’s turn it lighter. What do you want to see when it comes to buying a plane ticket? What do you hate and what do you like about the current process? What would be your ideal way to buy tickets?

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28 Comments on "Topic of the Week: How Do You Want to Buy Plane Tickets?"

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Roger
Guest
Recognizing they are part of an alliance. For example Singapore Airlines keeps deleting my account every year or two despite me flying on them with the account. It is just that I have the miles credited to my UAL account so the balance never changes which they confuse with inactivity. The account matters since you have to enter a boatload of information when booking (eg passport and green card info) and it lets you save those. Try looking for SFO CMB at United’s site. They’ll come up with bizarre flights but they won’t include using SQ (also Star Alliance) at… Read more »
Shane
Guest
I likes the way the old United.com displayed flights: outbound options in the left column and return on the right. That allowed for quick checking of flight combinations with instant pricing. Now the United website is like all others that display round trip pairs only which fills screens upon screens of combinations. If the left-right display came back (and used by others), it would be easy to add ancillary options and promotions, a win-win for the airlines and consumers. For example, some add-one are per segment and this could allow you to pick variations on options as well see how… Read more »
Jim M
Guest

+1 here. As a former west-coast flyer I liked you could toggle between the option of price (vacation, fun) and schedule (business). It was a great feature. Thumbs down on UA for removing it.

David M
Guest

It’s not so much that United got rid of the left-right display, but rather that they got rid of their old website completely. The current united.com is really the old continental.com.

Mal
Guest

As someone who works with Airline websites & GDS systems every day, in some ways the Websites are great to use. but you can not beat a GDS to be able to work out just some crazy combinations of possible routings as it is limitless what you can find.

But some GDS (i use amadeus at work) are just WAY WAY WAY out of date and they definately need upgrades.

Brandon
Guest
I normally start my serach for fares on Kayak and end up buying my tickets either direct from the airline through their website or through my bank’s visa travel site which is frontended by Expedia and back ended by a local brick-and-mortar travel agency (I get 6pts per $ bonus for booking this way). What I would like to see in the future is an interface te be able to search for fares inclusive of my desired anciliary services (read: baggage) so I dont have to use a claculator and flow chart to compare options across airlines. I should be… Read more »
MeanMeosh
Guest
I’ll plug for the “direct connect” model, specifically on a metasearch site like Kayak. What I would really like to see is an option to first pick your city pair and dates, and then a checkbox menu to pick extra services (checked baggage, preferred seats, priority boarding, etc.), along with a box to indicate which carriers you have status on. Then, I would see a display that shows the “all-in” price on all carriers serving that route. For example, I have elite status on AA, but right now, all I see is the base fare. Even if it’s $35 more… Read more »
broadcreek48
Member

The best way to buy a ticket is through a professional agent who knows EVERYTHING about fares, routes and rules and who would assure my best price and best experience as his exclusive customer. I recently had a great experience with the Cranky Concierge and though I paid a fee, it was personable, hassel free and I was confident that I got the best service, best value, and best connections for my needs.

s.allardice
Member

Most of my flying is for work, and such I have to use Concur (Carlson Wagonlit) for all of my flight reservations. The way the system presents flights is atrocious and often won’t find the same, or even similar, combinations or pricing that say United or Kayak do. It’s painful and I hate it.

Wyodog
Guest

+1. One of my long time clients requires me to book through concur. Wretched interface; even more wretched travel support.

When booking my own business or personal travel: Kayak, which usually takes you to airline’s web site. Often I’ll try to force a routing to get the balance of fare, schedule, routing, equipment type, & most hassle free connecting airport. It does take time, but often it’s fast than concur or even Amex’s corporate travel site I sometimes have to use.

jglowicki
Member

Through my travel agent. Like I have for the last 35 years!

RICH
Guest

Usually use the Airline I will be flying home Web Site
Best Prices and usually never a problem in changing flights etc.
When just me I use my Elite phone number for 1 K with
United… They take their time and get you your best route..
( That is when United Computers are up and working)

A
Guest
I have problems when I try to get to those out of the way places. For an upcoming trip I need to get to YYT but will be coming there from YUL. It was amazing the effort it took to figure out the options on the very few available airlines (w/out crossing back into the US). What I want is to never get the “No Flights Available” response. It seems none of the databases have EVERYTHING from EVERY airline. WN is a perfect example. I want a one stop place to see it all there. No problem going to the… Read more »
David M
Guest
The problem is that Southwest doesn’t want to be comparable. They don’t even want to be on a metasearch site that will feed the bookings to them. They’ve built quite a reputation for being the “low fare” airline, so they want their customers to continue to come straight to them without shopping around, on the assumption that they have the best fare. Since it’s less often the case that Southwest is always cheaper (whether they’re being matched by a legacy carrier or being undercut by the likes of Allegiant and Spirit), they don’t want it to be too easy for… Read more »
jaybru
Member
Cranky, wonky, OK, but still great. Thanks. I’ve ranted about this often enough, I’m know. But, dear airlines, please try to think of your customers, actual and potential. Try to keep it all, display of services, prices, the process for purchasing of a ticket as SIMPLE as possible. We travelers travel for many reasons. Hardly any two of us, whether for business or pleasure, make choices exactly alike. How much weight each of gives to when we buy tickets, airline brand, aircraft type, seat location, day of travel, time of travel, airports, route, baggage handling, meal service, cabin services, you… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

For something simple people usually know what airline they want to fly so just going to the airlines website is fine.

But for big travel needs using a travel agent with a GDS will be better then any airline or 3rd party website.

Unless their is one big central website nothing will beat the GDS a travel agent/travel department uses.

Come on Man
Guest

I want plane tickets to be as complicated as possible so I have a leg up on finding the best deals.

DesertGhost
Guest

I liked the old America West website. It was very user friendly.

David M
Guest
I used to think the Orbitz matrix display was pretty neat. Then I heard about Hipmunk, and their timeline display was one of those moments of, “This is awesome! Why did nobody think of this before?” TripAdvisor’s flight search (a Kayak-like metasearch tool) seems to do the best job of factoring in add on costs. You can tell it what airlines you have elite status with and how many bags you want to check and it can factor in additional fees. But it’s based on their own efforts to compile data, rather than getting the info fed directly from the… Read more »
judynagy
Guest
I’m delighted with booking upgradeable tix on the new UA’s website. Never could do that with CO, always had to call … and pay for the privilege of talking to a res agent! Now, just put in your info, list of flights appears, clearly showing which have upgradeable seats and number of miles required … and you can check the plane configuration on the same screen. Choose your itinerary and off you go. Booking online is so much more comfortable because I can look at what’s available at my own pace and check my calendar or with my husband/colleague and… Read more »
Ron
Guest
I don’t want to buy plane tickets. I want to buy travel tickets. A couple of years ago I had to go to West Palm Beach, where the airport has no nonstop flights to the L.A. area. Instead of a connecting flight, I flew nonstop to Fort Lauderdale, then continued to West Palm Beach by commuter train. This was faster, cheaper, and more convenient than any air connection. So I want to search for travel options to my actual destination, not an airport destination. A few years prior I was helping someone who needed to get from London (UK) to… Read more »
Zac
Guest
Interesting that no one has mentioned mobile – I really like the idea of being able to book and manage travel on a mobile device, but most airlines’ mobile apps and websites leave a whole lot to be desired. For example, Delta’s mobile app looks the business, but when my travel plans got pulled apart because the plane for my first leg went AWOL .. the mobile app only had a small subset of the available rebook / reroute options (and the options it had weren’t even the best options going)! Fortunately their website had saner options for me to… Read more »
Ron
Guest
yeti
Guest

I want to be able to book one way flights on legacy airlines without paying a premium Fare.

I also want to know how to search the ITA matrix to do a search like this: “Show me all flights leaving SFO on 03-16-13, sorted by price and costing less than $900”

Michael
Guest
Perhaps someone can answer a pricing question I have? I live in Korea and fly Korean Air for vacations/trips back to the US throughout the year. On their website, if you select Korea as your residence, a flight from ICN-SGN round trip (for example) would be 300 USD or so LESS than selecting the same flight on their US website. The fares both include fares and taxes, so it’s not like one shows them while the other doesn’t. Why is that? Any real ideas? The same applies for Kayak and Expedia. You get the “US price.” I have also noticed… Read more »
Michael
Guest

You don’t even have to use VPN…it’s as simple as changing the “Country Page” on the airline’s website. That’s what I always do. I find the airlines that fly to where I want to go, get an idea of ballpark fares and schedules on kayak and always go directly to the airline’s website.

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