Last week a third-party air ticket distributor surprised many by offering flights all over the word for stunning prices.
However, it all looked too good to be true.
The website displays travel deals with major regional players such as Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates airlines for unbelievable prices.
An unnamed source from one of the airlines named says the site should be put under the scanner, as no contractual agreement has ever been signed between the third-party travel distributor and the carrier.
[Click here to read Etihad's online auction]
“We deal with third-party travel distributors, but on a contract basis only. We have never heard of this distributor and we do not have any relationship with it. They are not permitted to sell tickets on our behalf,” the top airline's source says.
The identity of the website is being withheld at this point in time pending further investigation.
After payments were made and e-tickets confirmed, travellers have been unable to confirm the booking with the respective airline and are thus not entitled to the flight they thought they had booked for.
From that point on, communication with the web-based travel agent seems to be impossible.
An Indian resident of Abu Dhabi named Rajkumar writes that he had booked tickets for his family to fly from Abu Dhabi to India with a well-known regional airliner. However, upon calling the airliner, the bookings could not be confirmed and the ticket number was unfamiliar to them.
Another duped traveller named Elaine from Oman describes how she booked a ticket with a leading regional carrier, only to find out afterwards that the e-ticket number could never be genuine, as it did not match the digits characteristic of that airliner.
Customers tempted by the incredibly low prices are asked by the travel site to use alternative payment methods due to a technical problem with PayPal.
“I paid through Western Union on May 3, 2012, money that I had borrowed from the bank in order to pay for these tickets,” writes Elaine from Oman.
Other travellers were asked to make a bank transfer to a beneficiary located in London.
After the payment is made, customers receive an e-ticket on which all details are mentioned, and confirmation of the flight can be seen on the website.
[Click here to find out which is the best airlines for families]
However, further attempts to contact travel agents of the website remain unanswered and suspicious customers asking for clarification are left clueless.
“Not only do I now have to pay the bank that money back and still sit without any legitimate e-tickets, but I also have to find money for other tickets. What do I do now, as I'm sure that the person who received the money is also fictitious. How do I get my money back...please help!” writes Elaine.
The website that claims to have offices in London and Hong Kong could not be reached for comment.
Emirates airline offers up to 30% cut in tickets
Dubai’s Emirates airline has announced a three-day sale offering customers discounts of up to 30 per cent to select destinations across its network.
The airline intends to maximise available seats on its flights to these destinations during this ‘slow’ period and is hoping that more travelers will take unplanned trips to avail of this offer.
“With less money spent on their flight, our passengers will have more to spend on the ground, perfect for an impromptu trip away,” said Khalid Bel Jaflah, Emirates Vice-President Commercial Sales UAE.
Available on selected return economy and business class tickets to 40 international destinations, the sale is valid for booking from today, Tuesday the February 7th, until Thursday, February 9, 2012.
According to a statement by Emirates, some of the most popular destinations included in this offer are expected to be: London, Dallas, Zurich, Beirut, Bangkok, Karachi, Paris and Mumbai. A number of Emirates’ newest destinations are also included in the offer such as Dallas, Seattle, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
“Whether travelling for leisure or business, our three-day sale provides customers with the opportunity to reach their desired destination for less,” added Bel Jaflah. To avail of this offer, outbound travel must commence on or before 10th June 2012.
A number of residents that Emirates 24|7 spoke to seemed thrilled with the news. “I was planning to take a short trip back home to New Delhi during my daughter’s 15-day school holiday in March,” said Navin Khatri, a senior manager with one of Dubai’s real estate brokerages.
“But was in two minds as the cost of four tickets – self and wife, plus two kids – was becoming substantial to justify a 10-day trip,” he said. “Now, however, I’ve checked the prices this morning and the trip will be almost 27 per cent cheaper,” he added with a twinkle in his eyes.
Then there is Timothy Alexander, a 23-year-old sales executive at a regional retail chain in Dubai. He’s planning to surprise his girlfriend with a 3-day trip to Beirut for celebrating Valentine’s Day, and said he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. “Guess what, I’ve already swiped my card,” he said, adding that he still had to ask his boss for the leave.
This isn’t the first time that Emirates has announced a limited period sale on its ticket prices. The airline also announced discounted price tickets in late December last year to spur bookings and travel within the next six months. The airline then offered a discount on sale of tickets booked over a two-week period, to over 100 destinations around the world. That sale ended on January 9, 2012.
The UAE’s other major airline, Etihad Airways too has announced discounted ticket prices in the past in order to spur sales.
In fact, it currently has an online auction going on, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi International Airport, to commemorate the airport’s 30th anniversary.
The online auction, launched on February 5, offers 60 tickets to 30 destinations on the airport’s website, www.abudhabiairport.ae. The auction comes as part of the airport’s celebration campaign to mark 30 years of success catering to over 126 million passengers.
Starting on the 5th of February and running for 30 days, participants can log on to the auction page on the airport website to bid for a pair of Etihad Airways tickets to one of its destinations. Each day a new destination will be announced for 2 Etihad Airways tickets. The Bid will run each working day starting 8am and will end at 5pm announcing the highest bidder as the winner of the tickets of the day.
Abu Dhabi Airports Company will collect proceeds of the auction by the end of the auction program on 15th March and donate 50% to Zayed University in Abu Dhabi to be used in the student support fund program. The remaining proceeds will be won as a cash prize by one of the bidders through a raffle draw held in mid-March. All bidders throughout the duration of the auction will automatically enter the draw for the final cash prize.
Eng. Ahmed Al Haddabi, Chief Operating Officer of ADAC said: “Celebrating 30 years of success through this unique competition is very exciting for ADAC as it signifies the company’s commitment to offer the most innovative services to its customers. ADAC would like to take this opportunity to thank Etihad Airways for their on-going support of Abu Dhabi International Airport initiatives such as this auction, aimed at enhancing passengers’ experience and exceeding their expectations.”