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I am Paaras – I’ve spoken to a couple of the guys on here previously under different log-ins. NTarrant will be able to verify he has spoken to me (couple of years ago now) and we did have competitive fares.
I’ve worked for Flight Centre for nearly 4 years now – we’re a pretty large global travel agency with several different arms – ranging from High Street and Retail Stores to a Travel Management Company that deals with global accounts in the several hundred millions.
With the Corporate side of our Business, each booking is charged a transaction fee where as the Retail arm doesn’t charge anything on top of the advertised airfare. The Corporate side deals mainly with credit accounts where as the Retail sector deals with anything from someone walking in, emailing or phoning us to book a Eurostar to Paris or a flight to Manchester all the way up to smaller Corporate Credit Accounts. Other than this, I an not too sure of the inner workings and charges of the Corporate branches. I do however know plenty about the Retail side of the Business.
The beauty of Flight Centre is that every single Travel Consultant has access to the same fares – these are negotiated directly with almost every airline. So not only do we have slightly lower fares than the online agents (Expedia, Opodo, etc) but we have lower fares than the airlines themselves.
Where we come into our own is during times of emergency – everyone remembers the Ash Cloud and Snow of Christmas 2011 – when passengers who had booked were trying to reach airlines, their help-lines were all engaged and no changes could be made online. We have our own systems and the airlines automatically provide us with rebooking/reprotection policies so we don’t need to speak to an airline to change a booking. During office hours, we have a policy of picking up all calls within 3 rings – outside of office hours, we have an Emergency Help Line for all passengers.
How we survive is that we have targets with each airline. For example, we have to hit £1m of sales in a financial year for our 1% override, hit £2m and we get 2% and so forth and so forth.
Each Retail Store works as its own entity – run and managed by a Team Leader – and thus incentivised to sell more tickets. So the company – pays each store £x per ticket sold. Once we hit a set target for the month, this doubles – this is how the stores themselves make money. This is where I’d like to throw in my sales pitch – the more tickets I sell, the better I get paid – so please feel free to enquire with me.
I work in a Retail Store that has several Corporate Accounts – and I have a range of clients from new phone/email/walk-in individuals looking for an Economy short-haul or long-haul flight to companies that spend about £20k a month on travel.
One of the added benefits of Flight Centre is that, due to its global reach, we have negotiated significantly discounted rates with BA and Virgin in their Premium Cabins – Premium Economy, Business and First Class. This mainly applies within the advance purchase restrictions – generally with 28 days of departure – but this can vary by route and cabin.
We don’t charge a transaction fee – but we do charge a 2% credit card surcharge.
Shout if there is anything else – thanks!21 Jan 2012
Yes I can confirm that Paaras and I did speak a few years ago. He did find a cheap fare for a trip to DXB on BA but the 2% credit card charge swallowed up most of the saving at the time.
Paaras, glad you posted, I’ll be in contact when I return from holiday.22 Jan 2012
Long time follower first time poster on the BT Forum.
Part of the company I work for does Business Travel Management (not my department) but I can say that the only advantage for this is that companies can have accounts and do not need to pay up front. BTM companies can also hold bookings and flights for days and in some cases weeks whereas an online booking will have to be decided there and then. Good saving can still be made in Business and First incl. all the admin charges but very rarely will you be able to beat the on-line fares for Prem Eco and Eco once admin charges applied. I have no intention of revealing my company name as I do not believe the BT Forum should be used as an advertising tool.8 Feb 2012
I polietely disagree with you – even if we are outside of the Advance Purchase period (usually 21-28 days in the Premium Cabins), Flight Centre rates are quite a bit lower than booking directly with the airlines.
For example – a Club Europe flight to Dusseldorf in August (17-19):
BA.com price = £405.55 per person
Our fare = £375.55 per person
Now if you are booking with a credit card, I understand BA levies a £4.50 charge and Flight Centre’s is a 2% (in this case that makes it a total of £383.06) surcharge which is still a saving of £22 (5.5%) compared to the airline directly.
This is the same for Economy and Premium Economy (outside of Advance Purchase – usually 14-21 days).
For example, a London-Tampa return with BA in June (04-12):
BA.com price = £551.70 per person in World Traveller
BA.com price = £1215.70 per person in World Traveller Plus
Our fare = £531.70 per person in World Traveller
Our fare = £1174.70 per person in World Traveller Plus
The same applies in terms of credit card surcharges, and yes, the saving is reduced, but saving £20 on a £500 ticket is still quite a good saving these days!
Now the savings to be had in Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class (if booking within the advance purchase period and if travellers are not spending a Saturday night on the ground in a lot of destinations) are a lot more hefty – ranging from £500 in Premium to over £2000 in First! I am more than happy to give travellers demonstrations if anyone wants to see just how much of a saving they can get.
FYI – all the fares we book will gain you exactly the same number of miles and tier points as if you were booking directly with the airline themselves.
I also understand why you don’t agree with disclosing your company name as an advertising tool – however, the reason I do it is because there are a lot of travellers out there that book with BA directly when they can be making savings booking through an agent like myself. Does it increase my business? Of course! But if everyone is winning, what wrong can come of that?
Hope this has been of help to all – if there is anyone that doesn’t approve of this, please do let me know and I will gladly only give advice and tips instead.
Thanks again!8 Mar 2012
All of these BA fares would be considerably less expensive if booked using the 10% shareholder discount.
In addition, TMC booked fares cannot be upgraded using miles.
If you have a BAEC credit card, you won’t get double miles on the purchase price.
In most situations, you also lose the ability to earn onbusiness points when using a TMC.
There are certainly savings if using a TMC, but these can be very marginal and outweighed by the benefits of booking directly.21 Mar 2012
A poster who I do not name is right about issues upgrading tmc fares however their fares tend to be more competitive in first. My experience has been in case of delay or cancellation you are much better off if the ticket was issued by airline direct. There are savings but there is a trade off.21 Mar 2012
“in case of delay or cancellation you are much better off if the ticket was issued by airline direct”
Interesting comment. I didn’t experience this difference. But I have to say I tend to be very proactive when these issues arise and usually call/go with a very specific re-routing request… It usually works…21 Mar 2012
Could you explain a bit more about how staying over the weekend or changing your dates or other aspects of your travel plan save you money ? I am more interested in Business Class options from India-Uk-India.
..Lariv21 Mar 2012
Your point about BA on Business Points is incorrect I’m afraid. All bookings I do as an agent earn BAOB miles whether I use a published fare or we use the nett fares we have access to that are cheaper than published.
Yes – bookings made through an agent cannot be upgraded using Avios Points – however very good agents like myself would book on the website should you mention this at the start of the enquiry and then do this for you to get round this issue. Other airlines do allow bookings made through agents to be upgraded using miles. I look after mileage schemes for most of my clients so I’ll often book economy tickets that can then be upgraded using points saving clients a lot of money. With some airlines these upgrades can also be on our discounted fares so you save twice over – I’ll always quote the most effective way to do this.
Yes – for some people keeping control and booking direct is the best for them – the point about airlines issuing themselves treating there clients better is also wrong – it depends on what ticket “stock” the ticket is issued – if you have more than 1 airline on 1 ticket then this is what may have caused an issue – and there are many reasons for doing this such as cheaper fares or because you want connections protected too having your baggage through checked. This is again something that any good agent will explain. If you just issue a straight BA return it won’t matter who has issued the ticket – and again if you have a good agent it is probably quicker to call and talk to them than to be stuck in a queue of hundreds of people waiting to talk to someone at a ticket desk. I have got clients better options to return after flight cancellations that what airlines have given them.
All in all – any decent agent should hopefully save you money – but even if it costs a fraction more you should find that get a much superior travel service and experience.21 Mar 2012
in my experience using travel agents at worst costs a little more but often less that internet but the real value is in the event of a problem especially with a complicated itinerary or in a country where things are diificult. here a good agent is worth their weight in gold.also consider that unlike internet an agent can book andyet does not have to issue tix straight away invaluable when last minute changes are required. also often i have booked at one fare then managed to get much lower fare at last minute again thanks to monitoring by agent21 Mar 2012
You’re correct that some TMC’s can add your – or your employer’s, depending on policy – onbusiness number into the booking.
But it’s by no means guaranteed this will happen.
I would never use a TMC myself, and once you take into account the fees or additional charges the savings often evaporate.
If you do have a problem and need to change your plans – particularly out of hours, the charges soon rack up.
Useful for the unsophisticated traveller, perhaps. Otherwise, steer clear.21 Mar 2012