Continental charging foreigners extra?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by torbster, Apr 7, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. torbster
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    torbster Silver Member

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    Booking a flight from NYC to Las Vegas, and CO gave me a price of 2153NOK for my chosen flight, which is $391 with the current exchange rate. I've always booked flights in my own currency, as CO always recognizes my country when I go to their site.
    For some reason I decided to check the prices if I chose USA as my country, and sure enough - price for the same flight was $318. So I thought I'd just book it and choose the right country later, but then I get this:
    "We’re sorry, but you must begin your search again in order to purchase this reservation with a form of payment in your billing address country. Please click on the Search button below to begin your search again."
    So I managed to work around it by opening another tab and logging in to my OnePass, and then hitting "back"-button on the tab with the error message. This enabled me to stay on the US-site while my correct Norwegian details were filled out.
    So now I'm wondering if CO has been discriminating against me and charging me extra all this time, or have they just not bothered changing their exchange rates for the last two years? :p
     
  2. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    My understanding is that the fare would be charged in US Dollars and then your credit card exchange rate would apply for the final charge to you, but I'm not certain that CO does that in all cases.
     
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  3. torbster
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    torbster Silver Member

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    I know the last time they charged me the exact amount I was quoted in my currency when I booked, but that was an international flight with a few code-sharing carriers, I guess it could be different on US domestic flown by CO..
     
  4. torbster
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    torbster Silver Member

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    just viewed my booking and noticed their currency converter next to the price I paid, and the exchange-rate they use is pretty up-to-date:

    Currency Converter

    318.00 US Dollars = 1,771.59 Norwegian Kroner (Rate valid as of Fri., Apr. 1, 2011)

    So yeah, discrimination it is! ;)
     
  5. Hartmann
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    Hartmann Gold Member

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    Before we pull out the jump to conclusions mat can you post the entire fare info for both?
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Was it definitely the same fare class for the booking? Looking at the published fares it would appear that there are a couple different fare buckets that would map to those numbers; perhaps the inventory changed? Just another possible explanation.

    Or they've been screwing you all along. :p
     
  7. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    Sounds like a point of sale fare issue. Probably.
     
  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    How did you determine the exchange rate? If you use Google, it's going to give you the market rate for big institutional traders. But you usually have to pay an extra 5-10% or so for retail exchange rates. I can also imagine that CO would give you an even worse exchange rate because it wants to turn those NOK into USD at some point, similar to how credit card companies charge an extra currency conversion fee of 3-5% on top of the already bad retail exchange rate.
     
  9. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    There is a possibility that fares booked in other countries may be different than what is booked here.
    A very very common practice in Brazil is that companies will have promotions where they will allow you to make interest free payments on high priced goods and services. Basically the merchant finances the purchase on its own.

    So you will often see advertisements that look like this:
    [​IMG]
    (not a bad deal btw, for GRU - MIA via Chile for 649 plus tax - lots of LAN miles)

    The above is telling you that you can take 8 months to pay the airfare off, with no interest.

    Catch: This is only available if you pay with a credit card issued in Brazil(I've tried), and the airline will just automatically charge the amount to your card every month until it is paid off. The last time my mom came to the US on UA, she paid her tkt off over 10 months, with no interest. IIRC, I was able to get the same flights a tad cheaper, but she decided making payments was better for her budget.

    So my point is, CO could have a valid reason as to why the same flights may cost more or less when purchased in another country. I also sometimes get beter pricing when booking something here in the US, than what they can get in Brazil, but the difference is usually pretty small.
     
  10. torbster
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    torbster Silver Member

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    I suppose you're right about different fare classes. But I don't think the inventory changed as those fares are still available today, but rather a case of some fare classes only being available booking through the U.S. site - and sometimes prices between those classes may vary..
    through my country-site the lowest available fare is Economy (U) for this flight.
    Through U.S. site it's Coach (H). On this particular flight there seems to be a $70 price difference between the two.

    If I view my booking there's a link to their currency converter which uses a exchange rate of 5.7NOK/USD, if I compare the quoted TAX-amounts on a ticket booked through their US site and a ticket booked through my country-site I can see they use an exchange-rate of 5.5NOK/USD - which is the same as my bank would tell me.
     
  11. 2lovelife
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    2lovelife Silver Member

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    It's pretty common to charge different fares for the same ticket, if you ask me. But, my experience is mostly with united. Sometimes the difference is in favor of the US market, sometimes in favor of the regional international market. I know at one time (long ago) SEA-SIN on UA was cheaper buying from UAs Canadian site than the US site. And I have bought several ex-HKG tickets to the US that were cheaper on the HKG site over any others.

    That's why we check over and over and over. Someone should offer a degree in finding fares, it sure is complicated, isn't it?
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Those are the fares I was seeing as well, so I'm glad to see that I wasn't off base on that detail.

    Export from Wandering Aramean Travel Tools
    Code:
    Flexible Fare Search -- EWR-LAS oneway for date range Apr-Oct on carrier CO -- Continental Airlines
    Carrier|From |To   |FareBasis |Fare      |Min   |Max       |Adv. Purch|Earliest  |Latest    |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |HA14HN    |USD$ 308  |      |          |14days    |22aug11   |08jun11   |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |HA14HN    |USD$ 318  |      |          |14days    |09jun11   |21aug11   |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |HA7HN     |USD$ 342  |      |          |7days     |22aug11   |08jun11   |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |HA7HN     |USD$ 351  |      |          |7days     |09jun11   |21aug11   |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |UA7HN     |USD$ 386  |      |          |7days     |22aug11   |08jun11   |
    CO     |EWR  |LAS  |UA7HN     |USD$ 395  |      |          |7days     |09jun11   |21aug11   |
    [size=1][i]Powered by [url="http://www.wandr.me/Tools/Flexible_Fare_Search.aspx"]The Wandering Aramean Travel Tools.[/url]  Click for your free account![/i][/size]
    I can also replicate the issue you are describing by using Point of Sale locations in ITA, lending credibility to this observation:
    What is not clear is why the inventory changes based on PoS, There is no indication in the fare rules that the H is not salable in Norway, for instance. Still, that appears to be exactly what is happening.

    I've had similar experiences buying tickets in Egypt and Viet Nam. In both cases the sales for foreign PoS purchases were significantly higher than buying in-country. In one case (Egypt) I paid the extra while in the other I waited until I was in-country and saved a bundle.
     
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