American on Atlas Blue?
February 23, 2009 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Booking a ticket on a low-cost European Airline (Atlas Blue) that "only takes European Credit Cards?"

I'm going to be in Morocco for about a week in April. I'm trying to book my flight out of Marrakech on Atlas Blue. Several of my (and my traveling companion's) credit cards were rejected on Atlas Blue's website and a rep at their UK call center informed me that they don't accept American credit cards. Only European cards.

His advice was to have a friend with a European card book it for me. Great.

So what do I do? I don't have a European card, nor do I know anyone who does...
posted by jckll to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
I had that problem 6 years ago and the solution was to use a travel agent in my area, though it cost me an extra $25. Maybe things have changed.
posted by cardboard at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2009

Many airlines don't advertise it, but you might be able to pay via check/money order/first born/other means of payment.

Travel agents might have better luck, but likely not unless they themselves have some sort of European based credit card to purchase with - It does not look like they participate in any of the standard booking systems (called a GDS - Worldspan, Sabre, Galileo, etc). The key phrase there is "ticketless" for that. These GDSes are how most travel agents book travel. (If you do have a travel agent, have them look for flights from airline code 8A - This is Atlas Blue's IATA identification code).

They do have a parent airline, Royal Air Maroc. . It may be worth trying to contact the parent airline to see if they could place this booking for you.

If you have an American Express card, call their member services number. They could surely book this for you. AAA might be able to do the same, but that seems less likely.

Your bank may also have a presence in Europe and offer something in this vein, but I don't know that it's worth descending to that depth of madness to find out.
posted by Rendus at 7:49 AM on February 23, 2009

you could try using paypal or wiring the money to them - but since wire transfers are unusual in the US you're likely to incur a hefty charge as well. another option is to purchase tickets at the counter when you get there but you're unlikely to get a similar deal and have no reserved seats.

finally: call your credit card company and see if they can help you out. they probably have dealt with this before and perhaps they have another idea.

the problem is the billing address - the age-old zip code problem. rest assured that many US companies act the same way towards europeans. (a great example is thrifty: I have never been able to pick up a car there and one of the companies I used to work for insisted on trying to book me cars with them. I think Allegiant does it, too.)
posted by krautland at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. I asked the call center rep if I could pay "by any other means" and he said only European Credit Card. So I think check/money order is out.

As for Royal Air Maroc, I know that's an option but for whatever reason booking the same flight on RAM (Operated by Atlas Blue) is nearly twice as much. So I'd like to avoid that if possible.

I will call AMEX and see if they can help me.

As for a travel agent: I am young and spry enough to happily claim I have never used a travel agent in my life. The downside of that is that I have no idea how to go about finding/using one. If AMEX can't help me I would gladly pay $25 just to have this headache out of the way. Can anyone recommend a travel agent I can use for this one-off purpose? Or a way to find such?
posted by jckll at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2009

One correction to myself here: A travel agent might actually have more leeway in terms of payment methods. My employer, for example, will take checks from agents if they're sent by next day mail to our accounting department. But you wouldn't know this unless you specifically asked a customer service rep that also knew about it.

krautland: *cough* Yeah, Allegiant books through National and Alamo exclusively. However, Allegiant collects and then pays Alamo, and Alamo should only have the passenger names, not any of their payment information. But if your country prefix isn't 1, they don't really want anything to do with you. However, I've heard of plenty of people booking by proxy or with simple false information to get past stuff.
posted by Rendus at 8:03 AM on February 23, 2009

These people should be able to help with their "Prepaid Virtual VISA Cards".

This isn't a personal recommendation, by the way, as I've never used them. But I have seen them fairly heavily recommended elsewhere to get around other airline billing issues (RyanAir's charge-you-a-fortune-unless-you-have-an-electron-card thing.)
posted by robtoo at 8:11 AM on February 23, 2009

should have also said: Entropay charge (I think) 5%.
posted by robtoo at 8:12 AM on February 23, 2009

However, I've heard of plenty of people booking by proxy or with simple false information to get past stuff.

yeah, I did that sometimes when using a german mastercard in the US. both the US zip code and the german postal codes are equally structured and that's often the only thing the websites check. so I'd put in my CA address (or any) and enter my german postal code. might be worth a try if the moroccan zip codes are structured in the xxxxx way (=this won't work if they use a system like the UK zip codes).
posted by krautland at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2009

cklennon, just look in the yellow pages for your area under "travel agents." If you don't have a phone book, try googling "yourcityname travel agent" (without quotes). Call around to a few and ask if this is the kind of thing they can help you with. I suspect that between the general economic downturn and the trend towards self-service online booking, almost any travel agent will be overjoyed to get your business for this transaction.
posted by Orinda at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2009


I just paid $5 to join this site for this post! I need the exact same help and am stuck - I tried my family travel agent who often helps us with trips to the Middle East, but (I don't know if she's just being worthless or actually telling the truth) she says the same thing, and cant book us the ticket on Atlas Blue...She suggested booking the Royal Air Maroc ticket at over twice the price.

I called the Atlas Blue UK phone number and they told me the same thing - online or over the phone you MUST have a "European" Visa or MasterCard to place the ticket order.

Any new suggestions or ideas? Much appreciated.
posted by vblei7 at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2009

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