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Last Minute Business Class Online Booking Agents
I see ads for booking last minute business class tickets. Has anyone used these services before? Are they reliable or a scam?
I wouldn’t recommend it! Best case, they’re working with consolidator fares or distressed inventory. More likely, they are involved in brokering miles, or doing other sketchy stuff.
Here’s a Yelp review I pulled/redacted from one of these companies that is theoretically “highly regarded” if you believe the reviews on their site (note, the giveaway is that the airline fees/taxes were charged separately, which only happens with award tickets):
[INDENT][I]Over the past few years I’ve purchased airline tickets from ______. The company lists their official business name appearing on my Visa statement as _______. Each ticket, including taxes billed by the airlines, was paid in full using my Chase Visa Explorer card. It was my understanding that the company was offering lower priced tickets as a wholesale travel consolidator.
On _____ I received a phone call from Lufthansa Airlines informing me that my ticket had been cancelled, and that I wouldn’t be given a refund. According to their Fraud Prevention specialist my ticket was issued by _______ in violation of the rules and regulations set forth by Lufthansa and most other airlines. She pointed out that every frequent flyer plan specifically prohibits selling, bartering or brokering miles/points in this manner. She brought to my attention that other tickets in my possession were most probably procured by ______ using the same method, the use of third party frequent flyer points.
Following the cancellation of my Lufthansa flight my concern was with the security of three upcoming British Airline flights. In my first contact with British Airlines, the agent assured me that the tickets bore my name and were fine, and that there was no problem associated with using them. This presented the illusion that all was in order.
Suspecting that this could not be the case, I requested to speak with their fraud division. Both my frequent flyer account with Lufthansa’s partner, United, and British’s partner, American, show no transactions related to these tickets in question that were purchased through _______.
In my discussion the following points were brought forth:
* Upon further investigation I was told that the mileage points necessary to procure these above-mentioned British Airlines tickets came from my account. The truth of the matter is that I never opened a frequent flyer account with British Airlines nor have I ever flown enough British flights to have accumulated such a large number of points necessary to get so many first and business class tickets. The account was registered in my name a few years prior by _______. British Airlines revealed that _____ most probably set up an account in my name, after having deposited the necessary number of third party frequent flyer points.
* British Airlines indicated that there was an American Express account set up under my name. 180,000 points were transferred. Years ago in fact I had an American Express credit card with Delta which was subsequently closed.
* A false email address was also set up. They were basically stealing my identity.
* I was informed that the British Airline office had received a phone call from an unidentified caller saying that he was me. When unable to answer security questions the individual immediately hung up.
______ lists an Australian telephone number on their web site. My agent told me that this was a fake number and there was no Australian office; it actually rings in their USA office. This attests to their questionable business practices.
A number of fraud investigations have subsequently been conducted by Lufthansa and British Airways. Lufthansa concluded:
” I would like to clarify that _____ doing business as ______ are not authorized sales agents for Lufthansa Airlines. We have advised the business owner in writing that they are to cease and desist from misrepresenting themselves to the public as agents of Lufthansa, as well as selling mileage tickets in violation of the terms and conditions of the Miles and More program, and to remove any all all logos and references to Lufthansa Airlines which are trademark protected.”
How much longer will this company sell third party FF points, attempt to buy third party FF points and steal individual’s identity?
If you’re here, and learning, you’re almost always going to be better off using miles for last minute travel, even if it means purchasing (discounted) points directly from the airline to do so.
Thanks Tiffany! I was skeptical, but that was way beyond what I imagined. Very interesting!