Help with multicity and multi-class airline reservations
February 14, 2015 10:38 PM   Subscribe

I'll be booking a multi-city international trip soon. For the really long trans-oceanic segments, I'd like to entertain the idea of business class, but I don't want to spend my travel budget on business class for the entire route. What is the best way to book a trip where segments A, B, D, and H are normal cattle class but C, E, and/or G want to be fancy-cattle or business class?

1. D is not a clean round-trip with either E or F, if you are going to suggest buying those segments as a round-trip.
2. I'll be beginning and ending this trip in the US, and I'd rather not have any complications due to a one-way flight out of or into the US.
3. Not all of the segments will be on the same airline -- necessarily (the short segments are only served by regional carriers).

Do I buy tickets in economy class and then call the airlines to upgrade the individual segments?

Is there some more clever approach that better ensures availability?

Is this something a travel agent would do better/faster than a regular internet- and phone-using person would?
posted by janell to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you want a travel agent for this. They have direct access into SABER (for which most of the travel websites are basically just pretty front-end GUIs) and if you lay out what you want they can whip it up pretty quickly.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:43 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

If it's doable you might look into an around-the-world ticket (I've heard rumors that they're still available from most airlines but you have to call and ask for them). Basically you can make as many stops as you like and travel whenever you like, but you have to pick a direction (east or west) and only fly in that direction, no backtracking. (These might not exist anymore, but I've always wanted to do it.)
posted by sexyrobot at 1:16 AM on February 15, 2015

This doesn't always price out the same way you think. A business class ticket from A to B to C may well cost the same, more, or less than a coach ticket from A to B and a business class ticket from B to C because of the ways airlines publish their fares. In the US, I've definitely seen international business class fares that include a domestic leg in first (if available) at no extra charge.

As fffm says, this sounds like a problem complicated enough to engage a travel agent. You'll want to do your own research as well though.
posted by zachlipton at 1:45 AM on February 15, 2015

On Kayak you can definitely search for "mixed class" and see what the airlines are putting out as options if you want to sniff around before going to the travel agent.
posted by dame at 6:41 AM on February 15, 2015

Sexyrobot: yes, they're still available, but you can't mix business and economy flights as far as I know. (Eg the OneWorld alliance tickets)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:34 AM on February 15, 2015

That's great to know about Kayak. I'd been searching on Matrix ITA. If that has an option to search mixed classes it is subtle.

I'll probably try to get as close as possible and then take that to a TA.
posted by janell at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2015

There also skiplagged which let's you book flights based on intermediate layovers that seems really good when I've looked for flights. Haven't booked with them but have with kayak and kayak is great. Skiplagged has the added bonus of perhaps getting a cheaper flight than what you would pay if it were your final destination(I don't know why airlines do this!)
posted by bluesky43 at 6:42 PM on February 15, 2015

You can indeed use ITA to search something like this. I'd use the multi-city search with the /f option in the advanced routing code section. You can specify multiple booking classes using the | symbol. Examples with description can be found here.
posted by thewildgreen at 9:06 PM on February 16, 2015

These are all great suggestions. The Matrix ITA search tips are a rabbit hole of options. I'll either decide that I can do what I want with a combination of open-jaw and one-way flights that I can book online, or scamper off to a travel agent armed with all the info.
posted by janell at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2015

« Older Is the .NET tld as "reputable-sounding" as a .COM...   |   Sitcom where a woman dumps a guy for talking to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.