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Flights different on website booking than on ChoiceAir?


dbsb3233
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Getting ready to book a March cruise (Dubai to Singapore).  I always book through a TA, but I also check fares on Celebrity's website just in case.  I also check airfares externally and on ChoiceAir.  But now I'm baffled by different option: the "Flights" button when going into to check a cruise fare directly on Celebrity's website.  When I select a specific cruise there (only to look, without actually purchasing), a "Flights" tab is there to the right of "Shore Excursions".  When I click on that it allows be to get a flight quote and select specific flights.  That's all good.

 

My confusion is that they offer completely different (way better) fares than the flightsbycelebrity.com website (i.e. ChoiceAir).  I get a $2200 best fare showing up there, but only $1000 by using the "Flights" tab!  I figured the "Flights" tab would be the same as the ChoiceAir, but it's not.  Anyone know what the deal is?

 

Obviously I'd like to book the much cheaper fares.  But I don't know whether I can do that if I book the actual cruise externally via a TA.  Can I book the cruise externally and then go into Celebrity's website and still get to that "Flights" tab to book the flights using that flight engine rather than the ChoiceAir/FlightsByCelebrity engine?

 

Edited by dbsb3233
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Recent experiences with Celebrity flights:

 

I booked a cruise through a TA and chose flights myself from the Celebrity site. 

 

A couple of weeks later, I wanted to switch to a different carrier on the outbound flight (the same carrier I was taking for the homebound flight after the cruise). I checked the prices on Choice Air's Quick Flight Search. They were only slightly more than my original booking. I decided to make the change and called the Celebrity Air number. Celebrity had higher prices for the carrier I wanted than shown on Choice Air. When I told the agent this, she said Choice Air's Quick Flight Search often doesn't give accurate pricing. So I decided to stick with flights I had. Then the Celebrity agent told me the price for the flights I'd booked had gone down. Instead of $820 per ticket, the new price was $711. She cancelled the old booking and made a new one at the lower price. The moral is: call the Celebrity Air number for accurate pricing and good customer service.  

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Booking with Celebrity Choice Air & later there is a price drop on the airline's website does not always result in the same price drop with your CA reservation. See my post under Cruise Air - Celebrity Choice Air  where an $800 price drop on Cathay Pacific resulted in only a $360 price reduction on Choice Air.

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I ended up booking the cruise, then using the booking# to recheck ChoiceAir (nothing changed - still $2300+ flights), and on the Celebrity website thru TripPlanner (the $1013 economy flights were still there, although the premium economy flights went up).  So basically it sounds like the fares were the same whether a booking# was provided or not.

 

Still doesn't explain the completely different results between ChoiceAir and the Celebrity site directly.  I went ahead and grabbed the $1013 flights, which is quite good for DEN-DXB + SIN-SIN flights.  The exact same flights priced on United's website are $4000+.  Expedia, etc all want $1500+.  So I'm happy with what I got, and they were better flights/times.

 

It's always a guessing game on what flight class and features you're gonna get that way though.  This combo of flights uses Lufthansa on the outbound flights and United on the return.  I was able to get into the United reservation and select seats for free.  Also says 2 checked bags free!  That's unusual.  But Lufthansa says no advanced seat selection until check-in.  Not sure if that's because the flights may not have been ticketed yet and that could change, or if we're stuck waiting until check-in.  Hope not.

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On 11/26/2019 at 8:36 AM, dbsb3233 said:

Getting ready to book a March cruise (Dubai to Singapore).  I always book through a TA, but I also check fares on Celebrity's website just in case....

 

 

Is there a particular reason you use a TA to book flights, even when you can find the flight you want on your own? 

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3 minutes ago, waterbug123 said:

 

Is there a particular reason you use a TA to book flights, even when you can find the flight you want on your own? 

I meant I use the TA (major membership warehouse) to book the cruise, not the flights.  Get better perks and bonuses that way.

 

I nearly always book airfare on my own (either direct with the airline or through Expedia, Orbitz, etc, depending who comes up with the best fares and flights).  I like to have full control over flights and fares chosen.  But when it's a Celebrity cruise I also check their flight prices as they're often much cheaper.  Like on this cruise, I paid $1013 while United showed $4000+ for the exact same flights (not that I'd have chosen those for $4000, of course). 

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While I have been happy with Choice air so far, I have not found calling to be helpful (tried twice); as it relates to choosing better flights or getting a better price. In fact, both people essentially suggested I would be better off doing the research myself.

 

Interesting to see the different experiences.

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1 hour ago, 81Zoomie said:

I was hoping choice air had better pricing.  I keep checking the flight quotes and there is only an approximate $10 difference between booking direct with the carriers and choice air.  Am I missing something?


Our international flights booked through Choice Air have been much cheaper than the airline (business class at less than half, for example).  For domestic flights, the difference can be minimal.  I'd also assume there are a lot of factors that go into it, such as time of year, popularity of certain routes, etc.

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6 hours ago, 81Zoomie said:

I was hoping choice air had better pricing.  I keep checking the flight quotes and there is only an approximate $10 difference between booking direct with the carriers and choice air.  Am I missing something?

Did you check it directly on the Celebrity site? Go into ALREADY BOOKED, then BOOK FLIGHTS.  I found drastically cheaper fares that way than going to ChoiceAir.com.  I expected them to produce the same results but it was very different.

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I appreciate all the hints.  I have gone to already booked, the flights tab, and the flight quotes tab.  All are now about $15 more than booking directly with the airline.  I will try to call Celebrity.  Amsterdam must be a happening place in August!

Edited by 81Zoomie
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18 minutes ago, 81Zoomie said:

I appreciate all the hints.  I have gone to already booked, the flights tab, and the flight quotes tab.  All are now about $15 more than booking directly with the airline.  I will try to call Celebrity.  Amsterdam must be a happening place in August!

There's so much variance in flight searches and fares.  The routes with more competition (as Amsterdam probably has from major US cities) probably show the better fares on more of the usual search engines. My flights were less common (Denver to Dubai, Singapore to Denver) thus could be why I had such great variance between searches.  Celebrity Flights was $1013, ChoiceAir $2200, United $4000, and Orbitz/Expedia/Priceline/GoogleFlights were in the $1500-$1800 range.

 

If you haven't tried those latter 4 (and other 3rd party search sites), I'd check them too.  They tend to have many differences as well. 

 

August is a long way off.  I'd feel comfortable holding off for a good fare to pop up for another 4-5 months if needed.  Should always be able to get at least a reasonable fare on Celebrity if a good sale doesn't pop up by then.

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I agree that something strange is going on with Flights by Celebrity and also with other RCCL-branded flights. While last year, there were aplenty of flights (one-way business Europe-US) at very reasonable prices (<$1,000, i.e., ~20% of the published fare), nothing like that appears to be available for practically entire 2020. The flights available right now for 2020 (May-October) are practically the same as the published fare, the only advantage of X's flights would be the delayed payment.

 

Perhaps we all need to start annoying Flights by X and have them strike a better deal with the air? Flights by Princess, for example, still show very attractive fares for 2020.

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Last weekend, I priced out flights in Premium Economy and the fare was running about $35 more per person than booking directly from the airline.  Since it was risk-free, I went ahead and made a reservation despite it being more expensive.  I've been checking throughout the week to see if the price would ever go down to the same price as booking direct, but instead every time I've checked the fare has been more that before.  First $100 more, and then $500 more.  Today, I'm seeing an entirely different booking interface that shows all the different classes of service on a single page, and Premium Economy is now priced DOUBLE what Business class is, with no Risk Free option.  I'm not sure what's going on but something is seriously wrong.

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I finally gave up on Choice Air.  I discovered Delta had reduced the price of Delta One round trip Orlando - Amsterdam (Nonstops) from $3800 to $2195 pp.  I checked Choice Air and the Celebrity flight quotes which were both $2700.  As others have pointed out, there appears to be a glitch with Choice Air.  We were planning to go Comfort Plus, but the new Delta pricing was too good to pass up.  Hope we arrive a bit more refreshed!

 

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On 12/6/2019 at 7:41 AM, 81Zoomie said:

I was hoping choice air had better pricing.  I keep checking the flight quotes and there is only an approximate $10 difference between booking direct with the carriers and choice air.  Am I missing something?

My experience is Choice Air prices for domestic flights are usually the same or slightly lower than the airlines, but on International there can be HUGE savings.

 

 

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Am also finding choice air with very low and different prices from the other Celebrity ways of booking. Just booked DC to Rome. Choice Air was $2400pp business while the flight search within the celebrity booking was $4700. And depending on how I spoke with, the call center was $4-6k per person for the same flights.   I was able to call the airline to select seats so I should be good to go with the lower fare.  

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I've been looking for one-way business from Florida to Rome in Oct for Reflection TA.  

 

Called Flights by Celebrity:  $8000 from Orlando, $5000 from Miami.  

Called Choiceair:  $5000 Orlando; $3500 Miami

Flightsbycelebrity site:  $8000 Orlando; $5000 Miami

Choiceair site:  $5000 Orlando; $1500 Miami

 

Unfortunately, couldn't book thru choiceair myself because my B2B cruises were linked.  So called choiceair again telling lady that I could see one-way MIA-FCO for $1500!  She got snippy and said choiceair website wasn't updated anymore and those prices were wrong; I HAD to book thru celebritycruises flightsbycelebrity.  (BTW, when you call the phone number on choiceair splash page, you get flights by celebrity and vice versa.  Same folks either number, even though prices were all over.) 

 

Didn't feel like arguing.  Texted my TA and had her unlink my B2B cruises.  Then opened the choiceair site, plugged in my booking number, and booked the $1500 fare from Miami.  It's showing on my airline app and on my Celebrity invoice.  And a one-way car rental from my home to MIA is $46.  

 

Up until now, I've always (100% of the time) done better over the phone.  For the first time ever, I did $3500 better doing it myself.  Prior to final payment, I'll have my TA relink the cruises for the discounts.

 

FlightsbyCelebrity's problems are more than just prices.  First guy I spoke to told me the reason I couldn't book online was because I wasn't booking roundtrip. 🤣 Um, it's a Transatlantic.  It was because bookings were linked.

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Goofysmom99,

 

This is in line with my observations. But, even the choiseair web (aka CruisingPower) is not consistent. I mean, if I use generic choice (no preferred time and no preferred air carrier), I get prices that are reasonable to choiceair (~25% of official fare for oneway business). But, if I specify the time window that covers one of these reasonable flights, the price jumps ~150%, but still below the official fare! And if I specify the carrier, the price becomes exactly the official fare, and the same you can get with FlightsbyCelebrity. Very close to your $1500-> $3500 --> $5000 example. 

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1 hour ago, goofysmom99 said:

Unfortunately, couldn't book thru choiceair myself because my B2B cruises were linked.  So called choiceair again telling lady that I could see one-way MIA-FCO for $1500!  She got snippy and said choiceair website wasn't updated anymore and those prices were wrong; I HAD to book thru celebritycruises flightsbycelebrity. 

I think we had the same agent.  I got the same attitude and information about the site being wrong. She also told me that she could see seats being bought as we were speaking and that I’d better book quickly.  This is for a cruise 11 months away. Sounded very odd so I ended the call. 

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