Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

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JazzTime
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Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

I am wondering if anyone has had a good experience booking business class travel through a discount broker? I will tell you about my recent happy experience.

I am generally suspicious of anyone claiming to offer discounts - that's my nature. If it's too good to be true, it's automatically suspect.

Ordinarily, I book airfare directly with the airline I plan to travel after first searching various websites and determining what flights are most convenient (not cheapest) for my itinerary.

Back in early March, I looked to book travel to Europe to connect with a river cruise in mid-April. I was stunned to find that business class tickets for two were running in the vicinity of $10K or more. I decided on British Air flights as most suitable. In rough numbers, the BA flights came in at around $10K. I then remembered I could get a discount via my BA Chase card. That price came in at $9K. Still rather high.

So, out of curiosity, I then took a giant leap and contacted SkyLux travel, which I had seen offered "discount business class airfare." While the agent initially tried to guide me into some moderately cheap fares - he probably assumes everyone wants the absolute cheapest fare - once I told him what I wanted, he priced out a fare for that desired itinerary. It came to $7400! That was $1600 less than the BA-Chase discounted fare and $2600 less than the BA regular online fare. Not only that, but the fare included a free hotel night, which we used to stay at the Sofitel at LHR terminal 5 between flights.

Let me tell you, I was highly skeptical of the whole thing and reluctant to plunk down $7400 to this unknown outfit. However, after much back and forth with the agent, I gradually came around and took the leap. By the way, the agent also got us seat assignments, which is something BA never provides unless you pay extra.

So now I am wondering if others have had any experience, good or bad, with travel agents offering discount business class fares.

I should add one negative: the agent immediately tried to up-sell a travel care package and was extremely persistent. That was annoying. Perhaps these packages may be a good thing if your travel plans change. But I get concerned that you think you are covered, but then have great difficulty getting your claim approved. That's a subject for another post.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by curmudgeon »

Thanks for the report. I've been aware that sometimes package tickets that include a hotel stay can be discounted below what you can otherwise find, but still be legitimate tickets (as opposed to what I think of as grey market tickets from resale of miles/points which are against the airline rules). This is a good reminder to check that model again on our next long haul trip. The push for selling add-ons makes me think that that might be the real profit point for the agency.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by LifeIsGood »

If you have points/miles and are looking for Business Class tickets I've used http://luxurytravelconsulting.com/award-bookings/ in the past. You give them the number of points/miles you have and where they are held (Skymiles, Membership Rewards, etc), travel dates and destinations. They will give you the options available. The cost is $150 per seat IF YOU BOOK. They found some pretty amazing deals for us but we had to ultimately cancel because of Covid.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

LifeIsGood wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:04 am If you have points/miles and are looking for Business Class tickets I've used http://luxurytravelconsulting.com/award-bookings/ in the past. You give them the number of points/miles you have and where they are held (Skymiles, Membership Rewards, etc), travel dates and destinations. They will give you the options available. The cost is $150 per seat IF YOU BOOK. They found some pretty amazing deals for us but we had to ultimately cancel because of Covid.
Thanks for the tip. I'm curious to know how that works. Can they find available seats that you could not find yourself using your own miles? Or do they make up the shortfall in points/miles for a booking that you had insufficient points/miles? Or do they piece together odd ball itineraries that you might never consider?

I'm a particular (i.e., fussy) traveler. I try to find convenient direct routes. I don't leave at 6 am or 11 pm. I don't make more than 1 connection (unless there is no other way). I don't do 6 hour layovers. If I'm flying BOS-AMS, I don't connect in Chicago or LA (wrong way connection). If I need to arrive on Thurs, I don't want a flight on Sat. just because it's free.

So I am curious to know how well this agency might satisfy my needs. I'm always looking for the best way to piece together an itinerary, so I can certainly check this out in the future.
02nz
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by 02nz »

Not familiar with Skylux, but be careful of outfits promising deep discounts on first/business class travel. Some of them are basically a middleman between those selling points/miles and those paying for the booking.

One legit way to get discounted premium class travel is the Amex International Airlines Program - savings vary but can be significant. I believe it's only available to Platinum (business and personal) card members.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by MGBMartin »

$2600 savings, free seat assignments, a free hotel, sounds like a deal.
Please come back and post how the trip went.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by ResearchMed »

LifeIsGood wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:04 am If you have points/miles and are looking for Business Class tickets I've used http://luxurytravelconsulting.com/award-bookings/ in the past. You give them the number of points/miles you have and where they are held (Skymiles, Membership Rewards, etc), travel dates and destinations. They will give you the options available. The cost is $150 per seat IF YOU BOOK. They found some pretty amazing deals for us but we had to ultimately cancel because of Covid.

We've used him for quite a few trips, including to Europe (several times), Asia, and Australia/New Zealand.
By now, he knows our preferences about airlines, seating, and routing. Ticketing can often be tricky; some of the best seat availability doesn't last long after being released before it's snapped up). So he has our permission to "grab the seats/beds!"

He now has our membership account numbers on file, and also some charge cards. He is also a travel agent, so we'd give him some of that information anyway when booking, etc.

I had the opportunity to meet him in person not long after our first experience using the services. That was nice... to know he wasn't a bot (that's often a running joke for us these days with someone we can't/don't ever meet in person :wink: ).

When reservations seemed impossible, especially a relatively short notice trip to Australia/NZ (which is one of the most difficult itineraries anyway for premium awards seats), he found several choices using routes we hadn't thought about.

Unless the discounted premium tickets are on airlines/planes we would want *and* they are discounted enough, we'll stick with using awards. The amount/percent of the discount mentioned above isn't enough. We could purchase points (which we don't need to do, but it's one way to value them) that would allow us a less expensive business class flight than mentioned above.

RM
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by ResearchMed »

JazzTime wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:57 am

Thanks for the tip. I'm curious to know how that works. Can they find available seats that you could not find yourself using your own miles? Or do they make up the shortfall in points/miles for a booking that you had insufficient points/miles? Or do they piece together odd ball itineraries that you might never consider?

I'm a particular (i.e., fussy) traveler. I try to find convenient direct routes. I don't leave at 6 am or 11 pm. I don't make more than 1 connection (unless there is no other way). I don't do 6 hour layovers. If I'm flying BOS-AMS, I don't connect in Chicago or LA (wrong way connection). If I need to arrive on Thurs, I don't want a flight on Sat. just because it's free.

So I am curious to know how well this agency might satisfy my needs. I'm always looking for the best way to piece together an itinerary, so I can certainly check this out in the future.

I suggest you contact him and give him a chance. Remember, there's no cost unless you get tickets you actually want.

He rather quickly got to know all of our travel "quirks", and we can be pretty fussy, too!

We have had some routings that you'd probably reject, but in most cases, they were OUR preference. In one case, I really wanted to try a particular airline and a particularly long flight. That was *our* request, odd or not! There were much better connections, but those were airlines that he knew we didn't want to use. But he double checked again, given that it was, in most minds, a much better choice... but not for us.

We sometimes prefer more comfortable seats/beds even if the flights/routing are longer.
Or we might prefer a lengthy layover where we know there is an especially comfortable F lounge to a shorter stop where there isn't as nice a lounge (in our opinion; others may rank them differently).

Yes, he's been able to find itineraries we didn't think of.
NO, he would not make up any points shortfall. (That would risk your - and his - participation in that airlines' program and probably forfeiting what you had. A definite "no no".)
However, he does understand which awards can be transferred to other airlines/partners/etc., so that the right number of points could become available, etc.

And sometimes, he's suggested what he thinks might be a better choice than what we had suggested. If we aren't interested in that, "nevermind". But we are always interested in at least hearing what else he recommends. He's typically flown on many of these, or he's had first-hand feedback from those who have (like when we tell him we loved this, or didn't like that so much, etc.).

Keep in mind especially these days, the airlines are canceling flights like crazy, and probably subsituting different aircraft. We haven't traveled yet since Covid hit...

RM
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by THY4373 »

It sounds very much like Skylux booked you via AA Vacations or some similar program. The signs that point to this is a one night free hotel booking and the fact you can choose seats on BA J for no additional cost which is possible when booked with AA. By combining a hotel or car rental with an airline booking it allows the airlines to cut their prices without undercutting their own flight only fare levels. AA vacations has long been known as a way to get discounted J tickets to Europe. Folks often even "throw away" the hotel booking but it sounds like you made good use of it.

As noted by others a lot of the deep discount F/J agencies are really reselling miles bookings. Not saying Skylux does this and even if they do it doesn't sound like they did it with you but something to keep in mind because if the event of IRROPS (pretty common these days) the additional eyes on your tickets could cause them to be cancelled if booked with sold points.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

02nz wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:05 am One legit way to get discounted premium class travel is the Amex International Airlines Program - savings vary but can be significant. I believe it's only available to Platinum (business and personal) card members.
I had an Amex Plat years ago when you could buy a business class seat and get one in addition for only the taxes (albeit about $1000). So two tickets for the price of one plus the tax. A pretty good deal. However, they dropped that program so I dropped the card. It isn't clear to me that the expensive Amex Plat currently has benefits to me that would justify the cost. Feel free to convince me otherwise. I haven't looked into it recently.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

MGBMartin wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:09 am $2600 savings, free seat assignments, a free hotel, sounds like a deal.
Please come back and post how the trip went.
The trip went very well. We took a Tauck river cruise from AMS to BSL. Only glitch was a lot of people got Covid and a number had to delay their return home due to requirement of negative Covid test. We were lucky that we planned to stay a few extra days in Basel - enough time to get a negative test and make our booked flight.

On the plus side, the BA flight from LHR-BOS had a substantially upgraded interior with the business section set up in 1-2-1 configuration, with loads of room, versus the older style 2-4-2 configuration. It was "first class" in business.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

THY4373 wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 12:48 pm It sounds very much like Skylux booked you via AA Vacations or some similar program. The signs that point to this is a one night free hotel booking and the fact you can choose seats on BA J for no additional cost which is possible when booked with AA.
OK, that's interesting. In particular, I note that three of our flights, out of four, had AA designations. Quite a coincidence.

I am curious about AA Vacations. Is this something I can book myself and get the same deal? I'm not familiar with it.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by THY4373 »

JazzTime wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:47 pm
THY4373 wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 12:48 pm It sounds very much like Skylux booked you via AA Vacations or some similar program. The signs that point to this is a one night free hotel booking and the fact you can choose seats on BA J for no additional cost which is possible when booked with AA.
OK, that's interesting. In particular, I note that three of our flights, out of four, had AA designations. Quite a coincidence.

I am curious about AA Vacations. Is this something I can book myself and get the same deal? I'm not familiar with it.
Yes you can book directly with AA vacations here: https://www.aavacations.com/

Flyertalk thread on AA Vacation deals for J TATL (not a lot of activity since Covid hit): https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/premium ... ns-43.html
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by THY4373 »

JazzTime wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:44 pm
On the plus side, the BA flight from LHR-BOS had a substantially upgraded interior with the business section set up in 1-2-1 configuration, with loads of room, versus the older style 2-4-2 configuration. It was "first class" in business.
That is Club Suites and it is indeed a huge improvement over BA's very subpar old Club World seats. The only route more or less guaranteed to get it right now are LHR/JFK routes. My son and I are flying back from our current trip to Europe via JFK for this exact reason (we flew out on F). I'll go out of my way to avoid the old Club World seats.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by LifeIsGood »

First - you must have enough miles/points for the itineraries that they propose. They were able to use the patchwork of points that we had collected and assemble it into an itinerary. If I remember correctly, they sent us about 4 or 5 different options to chose from. If you tell them your "must have's" they will take that into account. It's an interesting business model. No money changes hands unless you book a ticket. When we did it, it was strictly on the honor system. This all happened pre-Covid so things may have changed since then.

JazzTime wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:57 am
LifeIsGood wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 5:04 am If you have points/miles and are looking for Business Class tickets I've used http://luxurytravelconsulting.com/award-bookings/ in the past. You give them the number of points/miles you have and where they are held (Skymiles, Membership Rewards, etc), travel dates and destinations. They will give you the options available. The cost is $150 per seat IF YOU BOOK. They found some pretty amazing deals for us but we had to ultimately cancel because of Covid.
Thanks for the tip. I'm curious to know how that works. Can they find available seats that you could not find yourself using your own miles? Or do they make up the shortfall in points/miles for a booking that you had insufficient points/miles? Or do they piece together odd ball itineraries that you might never consider?

I'm a particular (i.e., fussy) traveler. I try to find convenient direct routes. I don't leave at 6 am or 11 pm. I don't make more than 1 connection (unless there is no other way). I don't do 6 hour layovers. If I'm flying BOS-AMS, I don't connect in Chicago or LA (wrong way connection). If I need to arrive on Thurs, I don't want a flight on Sat. just because it's free.

So I am curious to know how well this agency might satisfy my needs. I'm always looking for the best way to piece together an itinerary, so I can certainly check this out in the future.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (travel).
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by MGBMartin »

JazzTime wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:44 pm
MGBMartin wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:09 am $2600 savings, free seat assignments, a free hotel, sounds like a deal.
Please come back and post how the trip went.
The trip went very well. We took a Tauck river cruise from AMS to BSL. Only glitch was a lot of people got Covid and a number had to delay their return home due to requirement of negative Covid test. We were lucky that we planned to stay a few extra days in Basel - enough time to get a negative test and make our booked flight.

On the plus side, the BA flight from LHR-BOS had a substantially upgraded interior with the business section set up in 1-2-1 configuration, with loads of room, versus the older style 2-4-2 configuration. It was "first class" in business.
Thanks for coming back and telling us how things went.
Sounds like a good trip, except for the Covid bit.
My wife recently returned from the UK, negative the day before but positive 2 days after getting home.

The old 2-4-2 BA class was not very good, I’ve been told it used to be state of the art which might have been ok if I were traveling 10 years ago.
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Re: Discount Business Class Travel Agent Experience - Skylux

Post by JazzTime »

LadyGeek wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:12 am This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (travel).
Since this post was moved to Personal Consumer Issues, the comments have gone dormant. It's not entirely clear to me how travel credit cards (Personal Finance - not investing) for points/miles are different from discount business travel for points/miles/cash. Be that as it may, any other comments from BHers on discount business travel opportunities (sans credit card)? :P
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