An online company promises Business Class fares at up to 70 percent off. But almost as intriguing is how they claim to do it.
Do you truly suffer as I do in Coach — or as I like to call it, Sardine Class — on long-distance flights? If so, there’s this outfit that you and I both may need to check out.
The company calls itself Wholesale-flights.com, and it claims it can sell you Business Class airfares at rates 40 to 70 percent below regular prices.
Apart from that claim, however, what really intrigues me about these guys is the way they go about it.
As with airline Web sites, online travel agencies and other reservation sites, you can book flights yourself online. But if you want the best fares at Wholesale-flights.com, you’ll have to put down the keyboard, pick up the phone and call them.
That’s right. In an era when virtually all online commerce seems almost totally automated, these guys actually insist that you talk to a real human being.
There are airlines nowadays that will actually charge you extra if you try to book a flight with them over the phone.
Wholesale-flights has its reasons for doing this, which it spells out right on its Web site:
“Live agents can find lower fares!”
You know what? It’s true. It’s the reason why bargaining-hunting travelers are rediscovering the travel agent. And this company seems determined to make the most of it.
As always, a few words of caution.
Each level of service aboard an airliner — First Class, Business Class, Economy (or on some airlines, Premium Economy as well) — is broken down into multiple fare classes, each with its own price.
You’re unlikely ever to see them all broken down for you on your consumer-level airfare site, but the airlines and travel agencies, both the online and live–human variety, do.
The “discounts” that outfits like this one offer are most likely to be for one or more of those discounted fare classes. And the discount itself will be a percentage of the highest rate charged for that particular seat.
Second, the more deeply discounted the fare, the more restrictions that come attached to it, covering everything from when you can travel and how long you can stay to whether you have to pay penalties to change or cancel your reservation.
And third, nobody is ever going to sell you a Business Class seat at a Coach Class price. You’re still going to end up paying substantially more for the upgrade, no matter how deep the discount.
But you know what? This isn’t really about finding the rock-bottom-cheapest airfare. This is about finding the best value for your travel dollar. Specifically, it’s about paying the best price you can get for the comfort you deserve.
Believe it or not, there was a time, back in the infancy of the airline Jet Age, when the majority of passengers were treated and seated more or less the way only Business and First Class passengers are now.
You had legroom, hip room. You didn’t feel as if you were sitting in a space capsule, or a torture device. You could recline almost in splendor, and the passenger in front of you could do the same — without threatening to break your nose.
Those were the days when air travel was much more pleasure than pain.
The “cattle car” treatment didn’t really begin until the 1970s, when the emergence of jumbo jets, coupled with the 1973 Arab oil embargo, meant that the airlines had to fill as many seats as possible per flight to break even.
That meant maximizing the number of seats — and minimizing almost everything else.
Anyway, give Wholesale-flights a look and let me know what you think of it. And if you can actually score a bargain on it, come back and let your fellow IBIT readers know about it.
Edited by P.A.Rice