I have to fly to Hong Kong on Monday and I am considering just going to the airport and buying a ticket there because there are so many flights between Taipei and Hong Kong. Does anyone know if this is cheaper than going through an agent and if there are any difficulties I may have with doing this?
Conventional wisdom is that it’s cheaper to buy from a travel agent. There’s a possibility you could get a standby flight at the airport for cheap.
But I’ve never tried it.
Why is that conventional though? That means going through a middle man which coventionally means paying another person.
Because agents buy tickets in bulk, know when there are sales, and so on. It’s almost always more expensive buying direct from an airlines these days. My experience where I had to buy directly from HK back to Taipei at the airport was that yes it is more expense. Tickets to HK are also dependent on the time you go. You can do all the research yourself or just ask an agent who can tell you when you can save NT5000 on a flight.
Some airlines like AirAsia have great deals on their websites but the majority do not.
It’s much much more expensive because airline offices at airports sell you the retail price. Agents and online companies buy at volume discounts. Big difference. That said, at retail price, you will get the perks associated with said full price (ability to change times/flights eg)
This clears the air for me…Thanks
And now it’s smooth cheap sailing.
At the KLM counter at TPE two weeks ago:
Friend: I would like to buy an economy ticket to BKK
KLM Agent: That will be NT33,000
Friend: Online it is NT8,000-10,000
KLM Agent: When you buy at the airport, we only have full price
Friend: I went online today but could not buy a ticket today online because it’s too close to the flight. I called the local office and they said they could sell me a ticket at a cheaper price of about NT12,000 but they would have to charge a booking fee, or I can go to the airport and buy here. So I said OK I will buy here.
KLM Agent: Yes but here is only retail price
Friend: But your retail price is ridiculously more expensive than the online ticket and phone ticket, and your agent said I could buy here
KLM Agent: Sorry, we only sell retail price here
Friend: Please let me speak to your manager
KLM Manager: I am sorry sir, we only sell retail price here
Friend: But you understand the situation, please make an exception
KLM Manager: I am sorry, we are not authorized to make any exceptions
Friend: But your phone agent told me I could buy the ticket for the phone price here, and your full price is ridiculous
KLM Manager: Who did you talk to at the phone office
Friend: I do not remember her name
(KLM Manager calls the phone office)
KLM Manager: Sorry sir, the phone office is closed, I can not reach anyone there
(KLM Agent speaks Chinese)
(KLM Manager makes another call, ostensibly to another office or a mobile phone)
KLM Manager: I’m sorry sir, they say they did not make that offer.
In the end, they caved into my friend (as of course they are able to do despite strident denials) and gave him a rate around NT15,000 - which is the online rate for business class. But he’s a world-class pain, so unless you’re prepared to go the distance, NEVER BUY IN THE AIRPORT.
I will say that I have found some at least as good or sometimes even a little better rates on airline website direct than going through agents, really depends on the airline and route and time of year and what seats are left. Always check online before booking with an agent, and always try to book as far in advance as possible. And NEVER BUY IN THE AIRPORT.
Could be worse. Was at the airport once with my sister and she was forced to make a stink about something and asked to see the manager. Out comes EVA manager. Name: Adolf Ho. We couldn’t control ourselves.
There are two schools of thoughts concerning people who buy at the last minute at the airport.
The one that used to be more common was that if the airline had an empty seat, it was better to sell at a lower cost than to allow go empty. The second is that people who bought at the airport were not discretionary travelers. They had to go, therefore were more likely willing to pay a higher fare than to walk away and go back home. The second scenario turned out to be true more often than not, so that’s why fares are generally higher when you buy at the counter.
Also, heightened security regulations, particularly on international flights, have pretty much done away with any kind of standby fare. They may exist somewhere, but in 20 years in the industry, I never saw one.