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Booking my first ever flight...

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1. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

Due to an inability to pre book a land option, I have sadly come to the point that I am being forced to book a flight.

Basically, i need proof of an onward ticket before they let me into Namibia, which I can't arrange. So. I want to book a flight, from somewhere in Southern Africa, to more or less anywhere else in the world. I suppose a European destination, but I don't really care providing it's reasonably long.

The most important things that I need are (a) it's reasonably cheap (b) home printable and (c) 100% refundable online (or, minus a small admin/booking fee). I'll be looking for a flight date of maybe August/September time.

So where can i book a self print ticket out of Southern Africa, that i can then easily cancel and get my money back without having to fight for it or spend hours on the phone?!

Ta.

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Most tickets are etickets these days--sent right to your email.

You're going to need to buy cancellation insurance on top of the ticket--and, even then, there's usually a specific set of criteria as to what entails a legitimate cancellation (doctor's note usually being one of them... you feeling a sinus infection coming on?). Be sure to read all the fine print!

3. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

there's usually a specific set of criteria as to what entails a legitimate cancellation (doctor's note usually being one of them... you feeling a sinus infection coming on?). Be sure to read all the fine print!

That's what i'm trying to avoid. Ideally i want a no questions asked refund, though I accept I may have to pay more for that. Do such things even exist for a reasonable-ish cost? I actually had one once with Singapore airways, but it was first class and ridiculously expensive (I almost had to be somewhere very quickly, so had no choice), and I don't want to have to part with that amount of money this time when it could be happily earning interest to pay for more travel.

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

I don't know, Rich--maybe some airlines have that option? I never bother with cancellation insurance, since the criteria for cancellation is so narrow I never feel it's worth the extra $$. Here's the Cancellation & Trip Interruption policy for Air Canada, for example. It's 14 pages long with lots of legal speak...

I have a feeling not many airlines offer "if you change your mind" coverage, though. Hopefully someone has an idea you can try!

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jan-2009, at 08:46 by tway ]

5. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

You probably have sorted things out already about the fact that you need onward transport to let you in Namibia, but still I ask you the question: isn't is possible to book a cheap ticket to neighbouring countries (for example from Windhoek) or even a busticket? Or does the same thing apply to those other countries as well?

6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

I've actually already got a bus ticket to Victoria Falls, bought for the same purpose. It was only 20euros, and unlike the flight ticket i may well even use it. The problem is they don't send e-tickets. I just got a very basic email saying "this is what i've booked, go and collect your ticket here", and even the from address is fairly anonymous. It might work, but it basically looks like a friend sent it to me and i wouldn't be surprised if it is not "good enough" or "official-looking enough" for immigration.

Or does the same thing apply to those other countries as well?

Certainly South Africa also requires onwards tickets, though i don't know if anybody else does, but i figured that if i booked such a flight for 6months ahead, i could use it wherever i need to as 'proof of onward travel', as they probably see enough backpackers etc to realise that people will loop around back to catch their flight out of Africa from a different country.

7. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Ok, I get it.
Well, as I am totally unfamiliar with cancelation policy in general, the only 'help' I can give is this link on the southafrican airways website, with a number you can call to see what their policy is.

8. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

You don't need to buy cancellation insurance if you aren't planning on taking the trip. All you need to do is ensure that when you buy your ticket it is FULLY-REFUNDABLE. If your ticket is fully refundable, then you just cancel the ticket and the airline will credit the money back to your credit-card, no hassle at all, and no questions. I've done it a few times.

Getting a fully refundable ticket cheaply isn't always easy, though. South African is probably your best bet there. You might need to book with an agent, though. I tried booking online, and it would only allow me to check a ticket from Windhoek if I put in I was from Namibia. You can still book non-refundable tickets through travel agents. Online, though, I couldn't quite figure out how to do it, if South African does it at all.

If South African doesn't offer FULLY-REFUNDABLE FARES, you could try Lufthansa or Swiss, both of which should allow you to book a non-refundable fare to Europe. These would be multi-segment (actually using South African as the first leg), and probably pretty expensive, but you would get 100% of the fare back if you book a fully refundable ticket.

Another option... I checked Air Namibia. They have a one-way ticket to Cape Town (1 month out) for around NAD 2000, which is $USD 200 if I understand my conversion correctly. Their cancellation policy on the fare states that there is a cancellation fee, equal to 15% of the fee or ZAR 750 (is that the same as NAD), whichever is lower. The fare itself is only NAD 1500, so 15% of that is only NAD 225 ($USD 22.50). The other 500 is taxes.

Pain in the butt, really... and probably you are going to have to actually speak to a human at some point to cancel the ticket.

Greg

9. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

Quoting Gelli

I actually had one once with Singapore airways, but it was first class and ridiculously expensive (I almost had to be somewhere very quickly, so had no choice), and I don't want to have to part with that amount of money this time when it could be happily earning interest to pay for more travel.

Hey, I thought you said this was the first flight you ever booked :)

10. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

Hey, I thought you said this was the first flight you ever booked

True. But I don't really count getting a taxi to the airport, walking up to the airline desk and saying i need a ticket on your next available flight to really be booking it. Though obviously, i accept, it is.

Greg - Many thanks. I was convinced such things did exist, it was just trying to work out how to book them!
I don't have any agent i can cheaply phone, and there are none on the island i can visit, hence i was trying to do it myself. Expedia and such don't always let you see all the small print, which doesn't help either. I had already tried to do it on the South African Airways site, but couldn't guarantee exactly what I was getting before i had to submit my details.

One thing - Your Air Namibia idea would probably work, but i DON'T want a ticket out TO South Africa (or Namibia): That is more or less my only constraint. South Africa requires onward tickets as well, so i'd then have to go through the whole polava again (i can't very well rock up at the land border going into SA with my only onward ticket being a flight to South Africa, and I can't turn up at Walvis with my ticket being a flight to Namibia)

Thanks again. Now off to try Swiss and Lufthansa, and possibly Emirates.

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