Find inexpensive airfare for travelling to Asia (from Europe & maybe elsewhere?)

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Tips on finding cheap fares from Europe to Asia

Originally here: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/06/travel/trqa7.php?WT.mc_id=rsstravel

I have the same question that you answered (Nov. 23) about the best Web sites for buying discounted business-class tickets to Asia, where we are planning to make an extended trip – but from Paris instead of the United States. John Murray, Paris

Travelonweb.com operated by Carlson Wagonlit Travel posts more than one million fares from France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland to destinations around the world. OAGflights.com offers fare comparisons and booking capability for 1,000 airlines serving more than 300 airports worldwide. A “view fares and book” option is achieved through a partnership with SideStep.com, a U.S. Web site that compares fares from more than 200 travel sites, including online travel agents, such as Opodo.com and Expedia.com, to find the best prices. OAG is well worth the annual subscription of €139, or $204. It’s also worth checking airline Web sites, such as Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Emirates, Air France and Singapore Airlines, which may give you more depth of choice.

I fly from Geneva, no longer a serious hub airport. As I often need to fly to the Americas and to Asia, can you point me to some good Web sites for getting the best prices? David Boys, Ferney-Voltaire, France

Geneva serves far more destinations with direct flights than during the last years of Swissair, which “orphaned” Geneva in favor of Zurich by cutting many direct flights, especially long-haul ones. Since the demise of Swissair in October 2001, easyJet has brought new life to Geneva by establishing a short-haul hub there, serving more than 30 cities. Now Swiss, owned by Lufthansa, has daily nonstop flights from Geneva to about 10 cities in Europe; New York is the only nonstop, long-haul destination with one flight a day code-sharing with United Airlines; Continental flies once a day to New York. A Swiss spokesman said that Zurich continues to be the hub for long-haul services to North America, Africa and Asia. London Heathrow is probably your best hub for flights to North America, Middle East, Africa and Asia. Finnair now has two flights a day from Geneva to Helsinki with the express idea of luring passengers to its expanding services to Asia. Connecting time in Helsinki can be as short as 35 minutes and the “grand circle” route over the North Pole can cut distances by as much as 1,000 kilometers, or 1,600 miles, to certain destinations, such as Tokyo.

Apart from airline Web sites, I suggest you compare fares and routings at Opodo.ch, Expedia.fr, or Travelonweb.com. For long-haul options through London, I suggest Trailfinders.com or Airline-Network.co.uk.

We fly twice a year to Europe, especially Paris, London and Frankfurt, and would be thankful if you could suggest a Web site offering cheap flights. Until now, we purchased tickets online with Malaysia Airlines, which has always offered the best deal, compared with other “cheap ticket” sites. For example, this December we paid $4,312 for two adults and two kids from Denpasar, Bali, to Frankfurt. Werner Ponholzer, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

Malaysia seems to have given you a fairly good price to Frankfurt. The cheapest round-trip price I could find from Denpasar to London for the two of you and the children was at Expedia.com, with Garuda/Asiana Airlines, for $4,815. The equivalent price to Paris was $5,728 with Thai Air. I suggest you check out fares with relevant airlines sites, such as Thai Air, British Airways, Cathay Pacific or Garuda. You might also try Zuji.com, an Asian-based travel site.

I have a 9-month-old son who up until recently has had the best seat in the house with the bassinet at the front of any plane we travel on. We typically travel Turkish Airlines, and on our last flight, noticed that he now barely fits in the cot. We are concerned about future long-haul flights and would like to know whether Turkish Airlines represents the standard, or whether other airlines have bigger cots. Naturally, we could buy him a seat at a child’s fare, but given his age, we would prefer the cot option. Rupert Birch, Istanbul

It seems to be time for your son to be upgraded! Either to a larger “seat” (in which the child lies at an angle, rather like a deck chair) that attaches to the same drop-down shelf in front of the seats behind the bulkhead as the bassinet; or else a normal car seat (suitable for a child of six months to two years), that can be attached to nearly any seat in the plane (except the emergency rows), provided it does not exceed the dimensions of the seat, and has a five-point restraining harness. Major airlines will follow similar rules, which are set by regulatory authorities. But always check with the carrier before you fly; if you need a bassinet, or a seat that attaches to the bassinet position, you’ll need to sit in a bulkhead seat and book a child seat, if available. Some airlines, for example British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – unlike Turkish Airlines – give helpful advice on “traveling with children” on their Web sites.

You wrote (Sept. 28) that it was unlikely that Britain’s one carry-on bag rule would be relaxed any time soon. But when I flew into Heathrow from Baltimore on British Airways, I saw a sign stating clearly that either a briefcase or a laptop is allowed in addition to the one carry-on bag. Can you verify my sighting? Ruth Cronheim, Barcelona

The sign you saw must have referred to rules for people entering Britain. But travelers departing Britain, or transferring through a British airport, are still subject to government rules that require laptops or briefcases to be contained within the one carry-on bag, and removed for inspection at security control.

However, the British transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, said in a speech to the Airport Operators Association on Nov. 14 that the ban on more than one item of hand baggage may be lifted, effective from Jan. 7. But only maybe – and only at airports that can prove to Transec (Transport Security and Contingencies) that they have “suitable plans in place to handle the extra screening capacity that they will need to ensure appropriate security standards.” Kelly said she expected all British airports to submit plans “over the next six months.”

Readers may contact Roger Collis by fax at (44-20) 7987-3451 or by e-mail at rcollis@iht.com. Please include city and country.

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