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Complicated airline ticket purchase - advice needed
Old 06-18-2009, 04:08 PM   #1
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Complicated airline ticket purchase - advice needed

I'm helping my BIL get tickets to Cambodia from an East Coast USA city. He is going with his parents to/from Cambodia (so round trip tickets). He is returning with his wife to be, so she will need a one way ticket from Cambodia back to the US.

They all need to be on the same return flight from Cambodia to the USA. Therein lies the problem - it is really hard to find the cheap roundtrip tickets and then match a one way return ticket with it on the return leg. I asked the orbitz representative if we could just buy a round trip ticket for the fiance and throw away the first half and only use the return ticket from Cambodia to USA. He said "no go" since they would cancel the whole ticket if the first leg was not used.

It baffles me that one way tickets are more expensive than round trip tickets. I have considered buying a slightly more expensive roundtrip ticket (ie more than USA-CAmb-USA) from Cambodia to US and back to Cambodia since it is still cheaper than one way (if I can even find it).

I find using the orbitz/travelocity/farecompare/expedia services great for most airfare comparison shopping, but this is a special situation that is "above my paygrade". Is this something that is going to be most easily/cheaply solved by using a travel agent. Do they still exist? How do you go about finding a good one? What is the compensation structure for them/how much more are they going to charge me?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:18 PM   #2
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Might be worthwhile posting the question on an air travel forum such as Fodor's.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:25 PM   #3
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Might be worthwhile posting the question on an air travel forum such as Fodor's.
What, the collective knowledge of the ER forum can't solve this one??

Thanks for the heads up on Fodor's. I'll give it a shot.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:32 PM   #4
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What, the collective knowledge of the ER forum can't solve this one??
As the doc responded when he saw the look of shock on my face after asking me if I wanted him to use two fingers for my prostate exam, "I thought maybe you'd like a second opinion."
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #5
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have considered buying a slightly more expensive roundtrip ticket (ie more than USA-CAmb-USA) from Cambodia to US and back to Cambodia since it is still cheaper than one way (if I can even find it).

There's your answer right there. It won't be hard to find.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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There's your answer right there. It won't be hard to find.
Surprisingly it is hard to find the same tickets (unfortunately). I have found tickets for only $1200 round trip (x3) and only $1400 for the round trip with one leg thrown away. There are very few flight combos on limited days at these prices, and some have horrible layovers (56 hr flight times!!??!!). Otherwise prices jump to $1800-2000 quick.

Still waiting on visa to be issued so can't even book today.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:16 PM   #7
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Why not look for a round trip Cambodia-US-Cambodia?
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:18 PM   #8
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Why not look for a round trip Cambodia-US-Cambodia?
That was the best solution I could think of, but for some reason it is more expensive cambodia-US-cambodia than US-cambodia-US. The surprising end result is that the one way ticket ends up being $200 more than the round trip ticket.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:35 PM   #9
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When I've had complex flight requirements I've always called the airline directly and they have been able to solve the problem . Not sure who flies to Cambodia but that is who I would call .
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Old 06-18-2009, 06:34 PM   #10
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Do they all really need to be together on the flight from Cambodia to the US? Worst case scenario, she travels alone to save a lot of money--is there a reason she can't?
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:04 PM   #11
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Years ago when I moved to Germany, I discovered that a round-trip ticket was about half the price of a one-way ticket. So I bought a round-trip ticket with the return date as far in the future as possible, just in case I needed to come back. I just didn't show up for the return flight.

Even with a return date in the future, one could extend it by paying a flight-change fee. We did this with tickets to Hawaii. We bought them on sale during a promotion, then paid a $50 flight-change fee to get the actual dates we wanted. I think airlines know about such loopholes nowadays though.

Also, I would try to drop the putative requirement of the "same return flight". My family has flown on different airlines to the same destination leaving with an hour and arriving within the same hour without problems. Now I realize that Cambodia probably doesn't have all the flights other places do, but I would guess the parents could fly on a different day if they had to.

And to make another point, my company does not allow senior execs to take the same flights just in case something bad happens. It's amusing because we still schedule to get to the destination at the same time and all pile into a single rental car.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:26 PM   #12
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The parents speak very little English and can read virtually nothing in English. Navigating a modern airport or speaking to a ticket agent (who may also barely speak broken english) could be really hard. They have only flown a few times in their lives, and always with someone who could read English. The description "unsophisticated traveler" comes to mind. If everything goes perfectly, they would be fine, otherwise it could be difficult (ie rebooking tickets, delays, change in gates, etc).

The fiancee has never flown before and also cannot read English nor speak any of it, to my knowledge. Making a multi-day series of flights would be challenging.

More importantly, that is what BIL wants and he's paying the price. I'm just trying to keep him out of the poor house.

So I guess "everyone on the same flights" is a given constraint for this problem, which I agree makes it more difficult.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:37 PM   #13
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Don’t know if this will help, but sometimes tickets are cheaper if bought in Asia. A quick search turned up PNH – BKK one way for $42.50 on AirAsia. (site is airasia.com) and BKK-JFK one way for $449 on AirChina, which generally sucks as an airline. An alternative on Delta or NW is round trip for $788. (Site is bangkoktickets.com.)

Matching up with your will be a problem, but if $$$ matters a little work might turn up something useful.

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Old 06-19-2009, 12:40 AM   #14
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Pick up a newspaper in Chinatown/Vietnamtown and call a travel agent who advertises there who specializes in travel to Asia. They can often find deals, although they may be with Asian airlines.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:56 AM   #15
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It may be cheaper to fly from Cambodia to Australia (or another pacific area destination) and then to USA for example. Right now there are tremendous flight deals between USA and Australia. Just a thought. Also Kayak.com is another website for comparing prices.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:46 AM   #16
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The parents speak very little English and can read virtually nothing in English. Navigating a modern airport or speaking to a ticket agent (who may also barely speak broken english) could be really hard. They have only flown a few times in their lives, and always with someone who could read English. The description "unsophisticated traveler" comes to mind. If everything goes perfectly, they would be fine, otherwise it could be difficult (ie rebooking tickets, delays, change in gates, etc).

The fiancee has never flown before and also cannot read English nor speak any of it, to my knowledge. Making a multi-day series of flights would be challenging.

More importantly, that is what BIL wants and he's paying the price. I'm just trying to keep him out of the poor house.

So I guess "everyone on the same flights" is a given constraint for this problem, which I agree makes it more difficult.
That's certainly a good reason for them all to be on the same flight, Fuego--the peace of mind from them all traveling together sounds like it will be well worth it to your BIL.
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Old 06-19-2009, 10:43 AM   #17
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Call an Asian Travel Agent - This is very common and they know exactly how to do it. I do get reasonable prices from them when compared to Kayak when it comes to travel to Asia
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:38 PM   #18
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Here's another thing to keep in mind. If flying from Cambodia to the US through Bangkok, the fiancee will need to get a Thailand visa in advance, even if only passing through the Bangkok airport in transit. Some people get tripped up by that and the girl runs into trouble when trying to board the flight to Thailand or upon landing in Bangkok without the visa.

If they fly back via Hong Kong or Taipei, I think she should be okay and not need any visas.
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:00 PM   #19
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Here's another thing to keep in mind. If flying from Cambodia to the US through Bangkok, the fiancee will need to get a Thailand visa in advance, even if only passing through the Bangkok airport in transit. Some people get tripped up by that and the girl runs into trouble when trying to board the flight to Thailand or upon landing in Bangkok without the visa.

If they fly back via Hong Kong or Taipei, I think she should be okay and not need any visas.
Definitely something that complicates piecemealing tickets together. It would undoubtedly be cheaper to do something like west coast US to BKK and then figure out how to get across the US on a cheap fare, and get from BKK to Phnom Penh Cambodia. But the crutch lies in getting the transit visa for BKK. That extra expense and hassle isn't worth it. Are you saying that if one books a single airline ticket that has connecting flights through BKK that one still must secure a transit visa? Oh yeah, I forgot, my FIL HATES Thailand due to some bad blood (literally blood) in the past (looong story), and refuses to fly through BKK lol.

We are hoping to get things worked out regarding the fiancee visa by this weekend, and then book some tickets.

We found some relatively good flights at cheap prices with a 20 hr layover in Hong Kong, something actually long enough to get out of the airport and get a hotel. Plus my parents in law will get to see Hong Kong, something they would otherwise never get to do in their lives most likely. I thought that the visa process would be complicated, but apparently not, per my recent google search. You can leave and re-enter apparently for free and get a visa at the airport (at least for US citizens). Not sure about the return trip since the fiancee is a Cambodian citizen.
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