Photo: Flickr via mikecogh
Who doesn’t love a good insider’s perspective on airlines? An anonymous airline reservation agent recently opened the floor to questions in a Reddit thread, dishing on everything that goes into cruising for deals at 35,000 feet.
We parsed through the lot and picked out some of the best tips.
[Note: Although the information in Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” series is generally credible, bear in mind that some of this information has been based on opinion and personal experience. Some tips have been edited for grammar and spelling.]
“The (Bing) fare predictor is pure genius. Not even Delta agents have access to that information. A close second would be Skyscanner. I love that skyscanner lets you search with the airport code ‘USA.’ It brings up all the flights from the USA to a particular destination. Often it’s cheaper to book one ticket to the coast and a separate flight internationally. Skyscanner makes planning that easy.”
What really surprises him:
“There are lots of unethical (ways to avoid fees and get discounts) like booking child fares for adults to get 10-20% off or using bereavement/medical exemptions to get cheaper last minute fares or to get agents to waive change fees. Delta/AirFrance/KLM require a bit of info such as a hospital name, address, and phone number for a medical fare but they NEVER call to check up on it so I’m surprised more people don’t just lie about it.”
The best airline to work for: Southwest
“If you’re in the US, it’s Southwest Airlines. No Question. Highest pay, best benefits, best management. Delta or United/Continental will offer better flight benefits because of their larger network but that’s about it.
When to book:
“In general you want to book six weeks to 12 weeks in advance. Any earlier and the flights won’t be on sale, any later and the others will have already snapped up all the low fares. Award tickets are another animal, though.”
When not to book:
“Unless you’re booking business/first class, booking super far in advance is always a bad move. Airlines charge higher fares for those reservations. It’s just like in the tech world where the early adopters pay more. NYC is somewhat of a special case though. There’s so much airline competition there that you can often get good fares even booking on the day of travel.“
What it really takes to be a reservation agent:
“They prefer two years of sales or call centre experience. Nothing other than that. Well, you do have to pass an incredibly thorough FBI background check, but that’s all.”
The best way to rack up rewards:
“Credit Cards are the best. Some people run their businesses off their credit cards and rack up millions of miles pretty easily. Suntrust Bank also has a checking account with a Skymiles debit card. That account is nice because the electronic bill pay also earns miles. So you can pay your rent/mortgage via bill pay and get miles for it. And if the person or (organisation) you’re paying doesn’t accept electronic payments it mails them a check.”
How to score roomy seats for the Big & Tall sect:
“Go with Economy Comfort or Exit Row. That may cost you a bit though. Also take a look on Seatguru.com to determine which seats have the most leg room. Unethically, you could call the reservations agents and say you have a medical disability that requires a bulkhead seat (you don’t have to state exactly what it is and Delta agents are forbidden to ask).”
Why complaining trumps praise when it comes to freebies:
“After your flight you should call or email (preferably the later) and let them know about every single thing you didn’t enjoy about your flight (food, movie selection, rude flight attendant, tray table didn’t work, wifi didn’t work etc). The airlines have a specific department to deal with complaints and they’ll give you tens of thousands of miles, free business lounge passes, travel vouchers, drink tickets etc. I have passengers and friends that complain all the time and have amassed a couple hundred thousand miles a piece doing it. As long as the complaints are valid you shouldn’t have a problem with KL/AF/DL.”
Do doctors get upgrades for helping during in-flight emergencies?
“A doctor on my flight to Japan got upgraded mid-flight for helping out. That’s not an official policy but I’ve seen nice flight attendants do it.”
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