Cheap flights… really?

At the agency we have been so pestered by so-called “flight gurus” that we would like to share our thoughts and research with you.

Respected travel writer Michael Gebicki also wrote in this week’s Sun-Herald about offers from flightmajor.com.

Briefly, these “flight guru” sites offer heavily-discounted First and Business class airfares.
They are at pains to make personal contact with their clients and they do advise their passengers – according to various complainants whose posts (unverified) voice their dissatisfaction – not to contact the airline in cases of difficulty or query.

Just yesterday, we received an email from one Emma-the-flight-guru who said she was from FirstClassDiscountAir.com and that she was taking us over from one Donald… Well we have never dealt with any of these apparently US-based sellers but the last we heard of one Donald the flight guru was in an email from AlphaFlightGuru.com.

The questions that raises are: Has a business changed its name but retained all the client contacts of the old business? And if so, why?
We are suspicious that our email address and that of others may have been passed on to a third party.
We are rather more suspicious that adopting a new name will put enquirers researching possible complaints off the scent.

Quick changes of address such as this put me in mind of those direct-sellers from the pre-email era who garnered mail-order business as quickly as they could before summarily terminating their leases and decamping without delivering anything.

But to the offers.
Everyone likes a bargain and the chance to save several thousand dollars on your overseas trip sounds good.
But as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission says in its warnings against scams, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!

If you buy an airline ticket from an IATA-accredited agent – which we are – or directly from an airline then you have the surety of knowing you will be carried.

Back in the days of paper tickets those documents were deemed non-negotiable bills of exchange. That is, a ticket was a form of currency usable for the purpose stated on the face and by the person – the passenger – named.
In fact, use of an airline ticket by a third party was fraud.

As we understand it, the heavily discounted air tickets offered by these operations rely somehow on the use of frequent flyer or loyalty credits of a third party, those credits being applied to purchase the ticket for the buyer’s use.

Emma’s email asked recipients to recommend their services to two friends.
That is how to quickly grow a business and it certainly shows that they do have clients booking, but a brief search of websites for complaints is easy research to do and may well find dissatisfied customers. Those we have found are frustrated by having no form of redress other than persistent complaint.

Just make sure you search the right name.