FREQUENTLY REQUIRED ANSWERS
TRAVEL CLASSES DEMYSTIFIED
There are four possible classes of International travel and not all airlines or all aircraft offer all classes. Each class – Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class has subclasses which relate to the price of the ticket and not the quality of the seat. Seats types and configurations also vary widely between airlines and aircraft types and this changes constantly as airlines upgrade their fleets. Also note that the cheaper the ticket, the stricter the rules about changing and cancelling flights.
HOW MANY BAGS CAN I TAKE?
All airlines conform to International Agreements, either by weight or by piece.
For travel via Asia to Europe it is generally a weight system and via the USA it is generally a piece system. Typically this is:
Economy class: 20 kgs / 1 piece
Business Class: 30 kgs / 2 pieces
First class: 40 kgs / 3 pieces
Many airlines are very strict about the number of pieces of luggage that you can take. For economy class you should plan on one checked bag weighing no more than 23 kg and carry- on luggage of no more that 7-8 kg. You can take the computer as well. Some airlines allow 30kgs in economy class. (Emirates)
There are also many variables depending on the type and class of ticket you are travelling on.
If you are travelling around the World on one ticket the piece system usually applies.
If you are travelling on a mixed class ticket then the lower luggage limit must be adhered to on those sectors, so don’t over-pack.
The USA is where you can be exposed to additional costs. If your domestic flights are part of your “International ticket” then the international allowance applies to the domestic flights. Where you “break” your journey and have a separate ticket(s) for domestic travel you will have to “pay as you go” for baggage each time you check-in. Rates are from USD 20 per bag. If in doubt as to your baggage allowance, it is always best torefer to the relevant airline website. You can be exempt from these charges if you have high enough Frequent Flyer status on the airline you are flying with.
REDEMPTIONS or UPGRADES? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
A redemption ticket is a ticket purchased solely with points. These can be airline reward points (eg: Krisflyer miles or Qantas frequent flyer points) or credit card points (eg: Amex points). Such tickets cannot be further upgraded.
Most airlines have their own redemption schemes. There is a hierarchy of status involved re: your actual “frequency of travel” versus “how many miles you may have accrued” by using a credit card.
Your airline status depends on your frequency of travel. Travel on partner airlines also accrues points, so it is important to know which airlines are in each other’s schemes. The two major groupings are One World and Star Alliance. You can find out more about their schemes on the following websites:
ONE WORLD -Qantas – http://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyn/program/privileges
Qantas provides preferential access to redemption seats, when available, to Silver, Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyers. Qantas charges customers in points if redemptions are not done online.
STAR ALLIANCE – Singapore Airlines – http://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/ppsclub-krisflyer/RedeemMiles_SQMI/. On line redemption offers a 15% discount on the number of points required to upgrade and several types of upgrade for each class are available.
Airline Upgrades are where you use frequent flyer points to upgrade a ticket that you have purchased. If you are thinking of upgrading a ticket from economy to business class, it is vital that you advise us at the time of booking because the cheapest economy class tickets are not generally available for upgrade. Also the cheaper the ticket, the more points are required for the upgrade.
HOW CAN I GUARANTEE MY SEAT?
Firstly no seat selection is 100% guaranteed. Airlines can at their discretion reassign seats.
For economy class passengers, many airlines do not allow pre-seating until online check-in opens -generally 48 – 24 hours prior to departure. Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways are examples. Unless of course you have a high enough Frequent flyer status which allows pre-seating.
Examples of airlines that allow pre-seating either at the time of booking or after ticket issue are Singapore Airlines and Emirates.
Another option offered to passengers is to purchase a seat online, only after ticket issue – payment of $20 or more per sector is required. Exit seats can also be purchased subject to availability and certain conditions being met. (Age and health restrictions apply)
Remember that if you change your flight, you also lose your seat allocation, paid or otherwise.
ON LINE BOOKINGS VERSUS USING A TRAVEL AGENT?
Online bookings are instant purchase and often non changeable and non refundable. Prices are generally for a seat only and everything else is extra, with a credit card fee tacked on at the end.
Our advice is not to book online if there is a cost effective alternative and this may not always be available. For the major airlines, there may be several airfare options available through a Travel Agent which are not offered on the on-line site.
Online Search Engines as opposed to actual airline sites will also offer flight connections which are ludicrously short. You may get a great deal, but will you make connecting flight and who is there to help you if you don’t ?
SHOULD I DO ONLINE CHECK-IN?
Many airlines will now allow online check-in 24-48 hours prior to travel. This is your best opportunity to choose seats for free if you don’t already have a seat allocation. You can print you boarding pass and then join the special ( hopefully shorter) queue at the airport.