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I can write with conviction that my experience with Air Jamaica was the biggest nightmare I have ever endured while traveling. The customer service representatives were impolite, disrespectful and frankly, useless. I was bumped from my flight for no reason provided and arrived at my final destination 13 hours late. I honestly have no idea how this airline still exists.
Living Nightmare, Courtesy of Air Jamaica
The service by Air Jamaica seems to be getting progressively worse. Along with the extremely long delays, customers also have to deal with the gross disrespect, lies, misinformation and discourtesy, courtesy of Air Jamaica.
Coming to and leaving Jamaica is becoming a living nightmare; a sentiment shared by many who have decided that they can no longer bother with the airline.
Our dilemma started on Monday, December 17, when we attempted to get our relative coming from Atlanta. Scheduled to arrive in Kingston at 1:10 p.m., she did not get there until 7:15 after being delayed in Montego Bay. With such an experience we decided to take all necessary precautions to ensure a smooth departure on Sunday December 23. Follow instructions, we did. Called the toll free number; flight 0027 to Montego Bay scheduled to leave at 4pm delayed until 6:30pm, then further delayed until 7:14. Abiding by Air Jamaica's check-in guidelines, we got to Norman Manley only to be told that there are no more flights to Montego Bay for the connecting flight to Atlanta and that passenger who had come at 2:00 were put on an alternative flight to Montego Bay. Where then was the delayed plane? No one could supply the information. Solution, "you need to rebook and pay the penalty". When we insisted that we were not at fault, we were insulted by customer service personnel. One female told us "I don't fly the plane". At the ticket office, we met Aretha who offered little assistance. When we asked to speak to a supervisor she said, "We are isolated down here and don't have contact with them", a blatant lie. We were however able to get the name of the supervisor, Miss Rowe, who proved to be very uncooperative and disgustingly rude. She went as far as to say that no manager could change what she said. No one could offer alternatives. As a second thought we decided to call the toll free number again. Sammy was extremely friendly and helpful and advised us that the flight to Montego Bay was still there and we were to report back at the check-in counter, as the system showed that our relative had reservation on that flight. This we did but we told that they had closed off but we could have gotten on when we first got there. Efforts to contact another supervisor resulted in another 20 minutes delay. The flight that was slated to depart at 4pm did not leave until 7:39pm, while we were still trying to get assistance. Thanks to the kindness of Sam, Sammy, Charmaine and security personnel, our relative's flight was eventually changed to 4pm, Monday Dec. 24, without payment penalty.
Not wanting to have to endure any of the distress of the previous day, my sister had me take her to the airport at 12noon. She was successful in checking in. The customer service representative was most gracious as she had remembered her from the night before. She was curious to know what the supervisor had said and if we had to pay a penalty. That settled my sister was advised to be back at the airport at 4pm. We went home. At approximately 2:05, my house phone rang. The caller was a representative from Air Jamaica. My sister's flight was being changed to an earlier one to Montego Bay, and she now had to be at the airport at 3pm. Although we wondered how they got my number, which my sister did not know and as such had not given to anyone, we were happy that at last she was getting some service and gladly complied with the instructions. At 3 she was in front of the customer service representative who changed her boarding pass. She then had a few minutes to say goodbye. We watched until she was out of site. Happy that all had gone well so far, we headed for home to await her call from Montego Bay. When the call finally came about 7 pm, we were all in tears. As soon as they got off the plane in Montego Bay, directive was given for all the passengers bound for Atlanta to step to one side. The flight to Montego Bay had been delayed and having arrived there, the flight to Atlanta was cancelled. The passengers were given two alternatives: stay in Montego Bay and get the 8:10 am flight or go to Miami and get the 6 am flight to Atlanta. Many persons asked to go back to Kingston but they were told no. Depression and frustration had begun to set in. My sister simply wanted to get home. She decided to get as far from Jamaica as possible; she was going to Miami.
After much distress and anxiety, we finally heard from her at midnight. She was in Miami. They were being given somewhere to sleep, that was all. The bus would come to get them at 4am to take them to the airport. Being diabetic and not having had anything to eat for a while, was taking a toll on her. To save herself from fainting, she resorted to snacking on the now 'not so frozen' patties she had in her hand luggage.
At the airport, she was thoroughly searched, luggage and body. Then some peeled and sugared june plums were taken from her and dumped despite conforming with regulations. A Hispanic woman kept telling her that they had to be frozen. What saved her was when other items were to be dumped and she began screaming like a mad woman to explain that they were frozen and she had had no control over their current state. At that stage, a supervisor intervened and said it was OK. She finally boarded a Delta flight to Atlanta. Schedule to arrive at 7:52 am; they touched down at approximately 7:25 am, Christmas day, battered but grateful to God that the ordeal was finally over.
We are not the only family so affected. This is but one of the many horror stories being told. There is also our friend who was to participate in a wedding but did not get in until the day after the wedding. We do understand that there may be delays, but what adds insult to injury is that management has not come out to say anything. People are losing valuable hours.
Thank God my sister's employers were sympathetic. She maintains her job but had to suffer the distress of lack of food and rest, loss of some of her personal belongings, and the humiliation of a body search. She works by the hour as such has lost very valuable revenue. In other instances there would be compensation.
As 'wounded' customers, we think that there should be some legal redress. We will definitely explore this. In the interim, we are imploring all our relatives and friends to desist from using Air Jamaica. Many have expressed their displeasure at the service and have vowed to find alternatives. The horror stories are coming out.
Overbooking and causing distress and then charging us for your negligence, is an underhanded way of making money. You need to do better Air Jamaica. Efficiency should be the order of the day. Truly strive to be the number one airline in attitude and service.
I am etc...
Karlene M. Black
Although this is a late review, I had to let others know of the poor product that both Air Jamaica and Air Jamaica are. My wife and I were scheduled to fly from Houston, Texas to St. Lucia in December of 2005. When we got to the terminal, we were informed the flight was canceled, and that they were putting us on an American Airlines flight to Miami, Florida and from there, to Barbados, where we had to stay overnight (Already, a day and a half of lost vacation). The hotel Air Jamaica put us in in Barbados only offered us "air sandwiches." I call them "air sandwiches" because that was all that was in the sandwiches we recieved - air and very little of anything else! The next morning, we were shuttled to the Barbados airport, where we had to stand in line for three hours, before riding a puddle-jumper to St. Lucia.
On the return flight, guess what?? When we arrived in Montego Bay Airport (a real cesspool of a place, obviously compliments of Air Jamaica, we were delayed several HOURS. When we got on their AirBus (AirDumpTruck??) for Houton, my seat had springs sticking out of the back - that was fun for the flight, and the seat cushion felt like a piece of plywood.
I was very happy to get back to Houston, Texas.
What a royal mess! How can one airline screw up so badly??? When we filed a complete and demanded compensation for lost vacation and employment time, Air Jamaica sent us two vouchers, for $100.00 each to use the next time we flew on Air Jamaica! What nerve!! The next time??? Never!! Not to mention that Air Jamaica is so bad on their maintenance that they are no longer allowed to fly out of Houston!
Oh, one last thing - the orignal flight was not really canceled - the crew never showed up!! Isn't that special?
We flew Air Jamaica mid November this year, and returned in December. We also had an additional unexpected short trip with them, so you could say we've flown with them 3 times.
After an uneventful 2 hour trip from Stockholm to Heathrow, we had several hours to kill before stepping abord the 350 seater A340 Airbus to take us to Montego Bay. Check-in opened four hours before the departure time, to allow for the often time consuming baggage handling - Jamaicans have a habit of travelling anything but light. After a 20 minute wait or so, we were checked in.
We were quite taken aback when it came to boarding, and everything seemed on time. We were greeted by cabin crew, pointed in the direction of our seats, and not long after, in the air. The plane and staff were tidy, and we were given free headphones, pillows, blankets and a bathroom pack.
Flight time should be in the region of 10 hours or so.
I suffer from extreme back pain when sitting for long periods, so was up and down whenever I could. The seats though were comfortable enough. In flight entertainment was the usual radio channels, about 15 or so playing reggae to rap. They did tend to repeat after a while though. There were three up to date films, although I must admit didn't really get into any of them. It's difficult if you are not sitting right next to a monitor as there are people walking around constantly. In between films, there were monitors displaying our position, ETA, outside temp etc, which when you are flying over the Atlantic, isn't particularly interesting.
The bar service started within the first hour of flight, along with a first meal - chicken or fish, and it was ok as airline food goes. Air Jamaica makes a big thing of their Champagne flights, and no matter what class you are in, it's available. I preferred to stick to Appleton Rum, possible the best Jamaican rum there is. Wine, beers and a full range of spirits are also available as well as soft drinks and hot beverages. It's all included in the price of seat. Not long after, a second bar service round was made, but just as it got to our seat, the fasten seatbelt signs came on, and the cabin crew vanished. A while later we noticed people seemingly carrying their own drinks from somewhere, so I made a trip to the back of the plane, where they were serving like a traditional bar! Perhaps this was a locals secret, as no announcements were made. Later in the journey, the trolley rounds were made again as normal.
Due to the amount of free flowing alcohol, some of the less educated passengers became a little rowdy. Several congregations of passengers built up, and people were taking absolutely no notice of fasten seatbelt notices. One passenger decided to light up in the toilets. The staff didn't seem to be in control, so I'd mark them down on potential safety issues.
A second meal was served later on in the flight.
One of the passengers then became ill, it became apparent quite seriously. The captain announced that we would need to make an unscheduled landing in Bermuda, a small island in the Atlantic. Now, I've always wanted to go to Bermuda, but not in this situation. Passengers were obviously upset, but if it was an emergency, of course it was fine. The flight path changed, and after a failed landing, a second one touched down on a rainswept and windy island. We remained seated on the plane while the passenger was taken off, then luggage, and the necessary paperwork was done. We then took off again, and ETA to Montego Bay was 3 hours - I think we all thought it a lot closer.
Nearing Jamaica, there was another announcement. We would now be landing in Kingston, the capital due to ground staff not being available - we were now too late to be processed. Kingston is only a further 20 minutes by plane, but absolutely no where near Montego Bay by road transport, plus we were due to travel on to Negril, another 90 minutes from Mo Bay. We actually wanted to see Kingston, but not the airport at the dead of night. There was no apology from Air Jamaica, but they said arrangements would be made at the airport. It was the early hours of the morning when we arrived at Kingston, and after a painstaking queue at passport/immigration we were ready to sleep anywhere. We were directed to Air Jamaica reps who had arranged for us to stay at the Hilton in Kingston for the night, with a flight to Mo Bay the following afternoon. We were told the Hilton was of equal standard as the one we had booked in Negril. Transport was provided, and we arrived wearily at the Hilton. I'm not going to comment on the hotel here, suffice to say, it wasn't very good.
The following morning (actually the same morning), we had breakfast but had heard nothing from Air Jamaica about our flight. We found out that some of the guests had decided against the flight, and taken 5 hour coach rides across the country. Eventually we had information that we would be picked up at midday, for a 15.30 flight. When we arrived at the airport, it was chaotic. Angry passengers were at breaking point, as there seemed absolutely no organization from Air Jamaica. Tickets had been printed for all those concerned, and a rep shouted out names, and we clambered to get them. My first name was completely wrong, and my girlfriends was mis-spelt - when I told them they said - "doesn't matter you are only flying to Mo Bay". Then we were told to leave our luggage in one place, queue up to check in. Once we got to checkin, we were told to get our luggage. We got our boarding pass eventually and a meal voucher for lunch, equal to around £3 each. Attempting to get through security into departures - of course we were stopped - names don't match your passports. They sent us back to check-in. At this point I started to get mad, and after much discussion between staff members, we were escorted through security personally, jumping any more queues.
Our flight was then called, and we took an uneventful 20 minute flight to Montego Bay, and connected up for our onward trip to Negril. We arrived at our correct hotel almost 24 hours late.
The holiday was great though, more about that in a seperate review. During the 2 weeks, we didn't hear anything from Air Jamaica, not one word. An apology would have been nice. We didn't look forward to the journey home with Air Jamaica either, although being a night flight, was uneventful and thankfully on schedule. The plane did seem very empty though, it could not have been profitable to run.
OK, so Air Jamaica wasn't to blame for someone being sick, granted. What annoyed us though was that they didn't seem to care that we lost a day of our holiday, and suffered horrendous times going through the airports. Customer service was poor and no apologies were made. In addition they told us various lies. On this basis, I cannot recommend flying with them, and if you have an alternative, I suggest you take it.
You can read more about Air Jamaica at http://www.airjamaica.com/
Well, despite having booked a holiday with Virgin Atlantic in good faith, we were told we would be flying ?with their friends? Air Jamaica. What a total and utter disaster! Let me summarise: · Our flight out to Cuba was delayed by 3 hours. Reason given ? NONE · Our return flight DOWN to Jamaica (only to fly back over Cuba later) was delayed by 2 hours - Reason given ? NONE · We were unexpectedly told to de-plane at Kingston - Reason given ? NONE · Our flight back to London Heathrow was then cancelled via a single announcement - Reason given ? NONE · The collection of our luggage by each individual passenger, the transport to a hotel, and the subsequent checking in at 4am of an entire planeload of passengers can only be described as utter chaos! · At 12:00 the next day we were PROMISED, after many requests for confirmation, that we would leave Jamaica on the 18:00 hr flight, and that Heathrow had given us an allotted landing slot. This turned out to be an utter lie, as after a 2 and a half our delay in the departure lounge we spent a further hour on board the aircraft, before the pilot eventually told us he was awaiting clearance through customs of a vital price of navigational equipment that would make the aircraft airworthy. This flight eventually took off after a 5 hour delay · Despite repeated requests, no transport from Heathrow back to Worcester had been arranged for us. After initially dealing with Air Jamaica, then a company called Aviance (neither of whom we had booked our holiday with!), we were eventually given a taxi after a further 3 hour delay! · We arrived home 58 hours after checking out of our hotel in Cuba I have heard people say that you get an in-flight fashion show. We did not. The food was also barely passable. We had booked our holiday 9 months previous, yet there was no children?s meal for our son ? we had no implicitly asked for one when buying a ticket for him! Bar service, thou
gh included in the price, is infrequent to say the least. I got 2 drinks on a 9 hour flight. Trying to get an air hostess to bring you a drink is easier said then done. By the time I managed to ask for my 3rd drink, the bar was closed. We landed an hour an a half later! Generally, the ?warm Jamaican welcome and hospitality? they are so proud of must have been left in Jamaica. If I must find something nice to say, it`s that the headrests were comfortable. I was not impressed that Virgin palmed us off on this 3rd or 4th rate amateur company. Neither I, nor may family, will ever fly with them again. If you read this and later find yourself on a delayed Air Jamaica flight, don`t believe a word they tell you? and don`t say I didn`t warn you!
Air Jamaica - worst airline for punctuality ever! Just spent 2 days stranded in Kingston,Jamaica, due to technical problems on a return flight scheduled to leave Saturday night from Kingston airport to Heathrow. Once the flight had been cancelled it turned into a complete nightmare with Air Jamaica trying to organise coaches and hotels to put delayed passengers up. The experience was one of total chaos with tired passengers attempting to retrieve baggage and get on coaches which were overcrowded or already full with suitcases. From the announcement of the delay to actually reaching a hotel took approximately 5 hours, and this all started at 3:00a.m. Communication from the airline was non-existant. Every morsal of information had to be asked for, and even on the day of departure there was no official communication in the hotel to let people know what arrangements had been made. The check-in at Kingston airport had to be seen to be believed. You are not allowed to take your bags with you to the check-in desk, instead they have to left in the middle of the room while they check your documentation. Once this is confirmed to be in order you then have to clamber over hundreds of bags and people to retrive your bags and take them back to the check-in desk - no easy task when you consider the amount of people checking in! Once in the departure lounge the screen showed the flight to be on time! It actually left 1 hour late. Do not fly Jamaica airlines unless you are prepared for delays!
We advise you to prepare your review offline, then to copy it to this space. This ensures that in the event of a connection time-out your contribution is not lost on posting.Outbound Flight Flight time was originally 12:40 we were informed of a change to the flight time late in May to 15:15. We attempted on numerous occasions to get the flight times confirmed prior to this time as we were trying to book flights from Leeds Bradford to Heathrow to co-inside with the Heathrow flight. The longer we had to wait the more expensive the transfers got. We left Heathrow approx ½ hour behind schedule. Headphones for the entertainments system were handed out. An hour into the flight we had to ask if there was any entertainment as it was not on. We received a blunt reply, telling us that the entertainment system was not working. Not only were we on a flight with no entertainment for 10 hours but also we later found out that the system has not been working for 3 months! Why has nothing been done about this. The reading lights were also not working, when you turned them on you actually turned on the reading light for a passenger in another seat. The flight crews were rude to the extent where passengers didn?t like to ask for anything for fear of being viewed as an inconvenience. (The worst service I have ever received on a flight) 1-hour 20mins before landing we were told that the plane had technical problems and we were bypassing Havana and proceeding straight to Jamaica where we would be transferred back to Havana. As I understand if an aircraft is experiencing technical difficulties then the aircraft should land at the nearest airport which was Havana not Kingston Jamaica. I asked a member of the crew who explained that if they flew to Havana they would be there for 24 hours getting the aircraft fixed. This is not our problem If you have 220 passengers going to Cuba and 40 including flight crew going to Jamaica,
you go with the majority. This was a poor reason and the only explanation I can think of is that the crew wanted to get themselves home with no regard for their passengers. < br> In Kingston Airport we were given no explanation for the fiasco, nobody could tell us what was happening and we were given a sandwich voucher which bought us a couple of sandwiches and a drink in an attempt to appease us. We spend nearly 5 hours an Airport, in a country, which we should not have been in with no reason for us being there. (A great start to our Honeymoon) After five hours in Kingston airport we were put on a replacement aircraft at 23:00 for a departure at 23:20. Aircraft was still grounded at 23:40. To our surprise the Pilot of this second shed! Announced that this plane was experiencing technical difficulties and we would be on our way in 15 mins. Still grounded at 00:10 (06:10 UK time) My self and other passengers demanded to know what the situation was; all flight crew met us with poor customer service. I asked for drinks to be handed round, as it was very warm with no Air-con. We should not need to ask for refreshment it should be provided straight away when a problem is realized. On my third time of complaint with the flight crew, the assistant pilot explained that the engineers were actually changing the front brake of the aircraft with another dormant Air Jamaica shed on the runway. I find this quite worrying and amazing that at 00:30 in the dark aircrew would be fitting brakes to an aircraft with poor lighting on a runway. I asked the assistant pilot (with reference to the previous flight) what he would do if there were a technical problem with an aircraft. Would he land at the nearest airport i.e. Havana or travel for another 1hour 20mins to another country and land there. The pilot explained that he could not answer for the other aircrafts pilot but he would land at the nearest airport, i.e. Havana.
We eventually got off the ground at approx 01:00- no more drinks were offered. We arrived at Sandals Hicacos at 07:00am Tuesday, 9 hours after our estimated arrival ti me. Missing the first night of our honeymoon in resort, missing a night that we have paid for, essentially drained for another 2 days as we played catch up with sleep etc taking the shine of start of our holiday and the celebrations for both our 30th Birthdays. Return Flights Yet again no entertainment, reading lights not working, loose floor carpeting. This was a different plane! Does nothing work on Air Jamaica?s fleet? The flight crews were better but this time the food was dire. In Jamaica we were delayed again for an hour due to??. O yes Technical problems. Fortunately we made up time due to the route taken. We still landed nearly an hour late. Fortunately we made our connecting flight (just) to Leeds for Heathrow, sadly many passengers did not.
After reading the reviews both here and other places, I had been nervous about booking up with Cubana Airways from a safety perspective. But the simple fact of the matter was that we wanted to fly direct rather than via Madrid (Iberia) or via Paris (Air France) and currently the only companies that fly direct to Havana are Air Jamaica and Cubana..the week we wanted to go there was a saving of £150 per person between the price quoted by Air Jamaica's direct sales office (I couldn't find tickets for Air Jamaica on any of the travel websites) and the price quoted for Cubana on lastminute.com., and we could not ignore that. So... very nervously, we turned up at the airport. I had thought it was odd that we were leaving from Heathrow as I had thought that Cubana flew from Gatwick.. it was odd - it was the same Air Jamaica flight I had been quoted for but sold as a code share! I was very relieved, not only were we going to be on Air Jamaica's self-titled 'champagne flights' rather than possibly risk our safety but we'd got our flights at a great price. On the Air Jamaica front, the flight was delayed both out (3 hours) and in (1.5 hours) . Also although the flight is direct to Havana it is via Kingston on the way back and you have to get out of the plane at 1am in the morning. I think they are a fairly young company so dont have the money to have more planes. On board the service is excellent and very friendly. Lots of champagne, good films... and the stewardesses even lead some in seat aerobics!! P.S. I have heard since then that these days Cubana lease from a French company for the London to Havana route and only use the old planes in South America and internally so maybe it's not so risky after all. This makes sense as it is probably very expensive for them to run and maintain an airline in and out of Europe and I cannot see the English package holiday companies using 'Cubana' if it were that dangero
Forget the Ministry of Sounds claims that they want to open a nightclub in the sky - I've got news for them, Air Jamaica beat them to it! In researching travel to Jamaica for my honeymoon it seemed as though the preference was for Air Jamaica (AJ) flights if you could get them and when booking we were given the choice of AJ or BA and so I went with the flow and suggested AJ. The luggage allowance was a mighty 32 kg (up to two pieces) and up to three items of hand luggage - BA take note! As the flight was scheduled rather than chartered we decided to get to the airport really early to make sure that we were not bumped. Just as well we did! We arrived at the airport just after 0900 for a 1430 flight to be told that the flight had been overbooked! Panic! Panic! Not a problem we were told. We were there early enough to guarantee our seats (although it did mean that an upgrade was out of the question) although had we agreed to give up our seats and fly via Chicago arriving in Jamaica the following day we would have received £400 per person plus overnight accommodation - not bad, but not on our honeymoon! The lady at check-in worked really hard to get us two seats together. The computer had originally put us across the aisle from one another as these were the nearest seats to each other but after a bit of jiggling with single passenger bookings they got us together. I just hope that the single passengers had not pre-booked specific seats…. Then the wait…….. We flew from London Heathrow to Montego Bay in an A340 aircraft. The leg room in economy was fantastic. Lots of room even for the very tall! It was more like the leg room experienced flying business on most other aircraft. Then the strangest thing happened… well from a European perspective. People started trading seats trying to get large groups of people together - it was chaos and you see the flight attendants getting edg
y as we were approaching our allocated slot time. Still eventually people settled and we were off…. The first thing that they did was to bring round socks and a toothbrush for our comfort - a nice touch in economy. In flight food was OK. You had a choice of a chicken or fish dish with the chicken being a Jamaican dish and the fish, European. Both were good. AJ advertise the flights as "Champagne Flights" where free champagne is available the whole way. Technically it probably was but it was not openly offered. Tea/Coffee, soft drinks and wine were certainly offered and were complimentary. We also had a snack of banana chips mid flight. In flight entertainment was OK. They provided complimentary headsets and showed three films (all about a year old) and had eight or so music channels. AJ is the only airline to have a fashion show in the sky! This was really just the airhostesses parading up and down the aircraft dressed in fashion from local Jamaican boutiques but it broke the tedium. AJ also offer in flight aerobics to stimulate the body during flight. These were held at the end of the flight though and, I thought, far too late. In a 10 hour flight it would have been good to do them in the middle to encourage people who had not moved much to do so (and to lessen the risk of deep vein thrombosis). The flight attendants were great, friendly and helpful. The return flight was much the same although with no fashion show as it was a red-eye. I did get to see the film Billy Elliot though which I had missed in the cinema - quite strange to watch at 4am (or was it 10pm….?) Whilst in Jamaica we changed resorts and flew Air Jamaica Express between the two in a Twin Otter (a small turboprop). There was no attendant service on these flights, being only 20 mins or so but again the ground handling was slick and efficient. I would recommend AJ to anyone travelling to the Caribbean and would
certainly use them again. Just check in early and don't get bumped!
I greatly enjoyed my trip with this airline, perhaps slightly influenced by their free champagne offer!! I found the staff truly wonderful- welcoming and friendly without being false. I found them extremely helpful regarding advice on Jamaica and what to do there and they went out of their way to locate information for me. I enjoyed their meals, which was first a gentle foray into Jamaican cuisine and later a tender farewell to a wonderful holiday....... The plane itself unfortunately was the only let down-I found it a bit uncomfortable and quite threadbare, but faced with the excellent hospitality, it didn't matter quite so much!
Where is the best place to buy tickets on Air Jamaica? This is my best advice based upon 10 years experience of selling discounted airline tickets - but if you think you already know everything, and just want to find out the cheapest place to buy it for this airline, then skip to the last paragraph! Lets face it, all airlines can get you from A to B, sometimes you have to change at C, sometimes you have to hang around at C, but if price is your main concern, read on .... First, as an ex-travel agent, let me explain how the system works. Nearly all airlines belong to a cartel known as IATA, which amongst other duties, helps to regulate the official prices between each pair of worldwide destinations. My first piece of advice is, never phone the airline for the official fare, except as a last resort - their staff are trained to extract the highest fare they can get away with, and they are never going to tell you that one of their competitors has a better deal, or that you can save money going the next or previous day. Furthermore, they can only sell at the officially agreed price. Luckily for us consumers, and unluckily for the airlines, they cannot sell all their seats at the official price, especially if a much better, more direct airline has the same price. For example, if the official fare to, say, Bangkok is £600 from airline A (non-stop in 12 hours) and the same price from airline B (19 hours with a 7 hour wait changing planes in Karachi airport) then it is obvious which will sell out first. In order to generate market share, less popular airlines will unofficially discount their fares through wholesalers known as "consolidators" - these can sometimes save you more than half of the official fare. These consolidators appoint specialised agents, and sometimes you can even save more money if the consolidator will deal with you direct. You may be surprised to learn that, depending on t
he length of the journey, the consolidator is only charging you £10 - £40 more than the "factory" price given to them by the airline. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not risky to deal with these so called "bucket shops" - If they let you down, they can be heavily fined or even jailed - everything is covered by the government ATOL scheme, so it is a lot safer than, for example, paying for a three-piece suite in advance to a High Street furniture chain. To summarise, these are my recommendations: Contact the airline for their best official price, on 0208 570 7999 Call the consolidator on 0207 274 2755 (Sackville)