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In March of this year I will be visiting Banff in Alberta, Canada. It’s a combined work and pleasure trip! The first few days will be spent doing some extreme snowy stuff, and then I will be attending a conference for the last 5 days.
I am lucky enough to have a good friend out there who is organizing most of the trip, (including a run down the Olympic bob-sleigh run in Calgary!), which just left me to book my flight. Easy enough thought I…
…How wrong can you be? The choice of Internet sites offering last minute/cheap flights is amazing. I sat down at the computer one evening and totally confused myself! It can be, and I am sure any of you who have booked trips via the net will agree, like searching through a book without consulting the index!
My Dad seems to keep abreast of the latest travel sites, and had noticed an ad in the Telegraph for DialAFlight.com. They appeared to be offering amazing deals on flights. So I thought I would give them a try.
DialAFlight’s home page is updated daily, loads quickly, and is easy to navigate. As you enter the site a little pop-up box tells you of the latest deals. (Their latest deal was 7 nights in Paris for 69 pounds). The other deals are set out down the right hand side of the page. These alter daily, but tend to include, Business Saver, Hotel of the Week, and Under 150 pounds, 300 pounds, 500 pounds etc. They also offer an email alert service to inform you of the latest deals, a service that I would recommend, especially if you can take up last minute deals.
At the left hand side of the page you will find links to all of their pages, which allow you to explore all aspects of you holiday plans. The main ones (flights, travel ideas, villas, hotels, car hire) are repeated centre page, but with fancy icons next to them.
This is where I began. DialAFlight claim to have access to over 5,000,000 deals, on both charter, and scheduled flights. You can search according to destination, dates and departure airport. You quickly are presented with the results of your search, which usually offers you the best price option for economy class and business class, and the option to view the other search results.
DialAFlight can link you form here to their partners, all of whom are ATOL/ABTA protected. They can offer you information on tours of Africa, Alaska, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Far East, Middle East, New Zealand, South America, and the USA. These links load up fast and only direct you to top quality sites. This is well worth a look.
Here you can be put in contact with rental agencies, or even sometimes direct with the owners of villas, apartments, ski chalets, and farmhouses worldwide. Very handy if you fancy an exclusive little hideaway in the Virgin Islands…
This page provides you with a search, using destination, arrival date, length of stay, number of guests, and type of room. Put all of the details in, and HEY PRESTO! Great room deals. DialAFlight boast that they recommend over 30,000 hotels worldwide.
Here you can search for the best price on car hire, from leading agents such as Hertz, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, and Alamo. All you need to do is input the place at which you wish to pick up the car, and the dates of pick up and drop off.
DialAFlight commissioned top Lloyds broker Crispin Speers, (a travel insurance expert), to write a unique policy for its customers. They utilize a panel of the worlds biggest insurance companies, with whom they deal direct to offer their customers huge cost savings whilst supplying great levels of cover. However I shopped around and found a policy to suit me, for cheaper, elsewhere.
Here you can find details of the DialAFlight price alert feature, which offers you information on short notice discounts. I have signed up for this, and I do receive info on some quite amazing deals.
Here you can look at reports on resorts around the world. DialAFlight will put you in the monthly draw to win a case of wine, if you write a report on a resort that you have visited. This may be worth a go, so I shall be summing up Banff on my return. If I win you are all invited round for a glass or two!
DEAL OF THE DAY
Again you will see the popup window, with the latest deals of the day.
This tells you all of that really dull and yet so important information about you bookings. It is worth having a read of this, but it really is quite general stuff, with no nasty surprises contained within.
DialAFlight is part of the Lotus Group, and is governed by ATOL, ABTA, and IATA. It has been voted into the Top 100 independent companies by Price Waterhouse in their annual survey for the Independent on Sunday. Given this information I felt pretty safe dealing with them.
This is a link to weather.com, where you can search for the latest weather news worldwide, or even look at interesting weather facts. This is a great site in itself, and you can easily get carried away browsing here. I did!
So did I manage to find a fight deal to suit my needs? Yes I did. I managed to get a return flight to Calgary for 343 pounds inclusive of taxes. Not bad really considering that it is the skiing season.
Some people may feel that a downside of the site is that you cannot book online. Instead they ask you to ring their reservations line, which is staffed by very polite, and helpful staff. You can call between the hours of 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Handy if you work during the day.
Once you have secured your booking via the reservations line, you will be sent you letter of confirmation, and your tickets. I was told that the tickets may take up to two weeks to arrive, but I was surprised to find them in the mailbox only 4 days after making my booking. I was given an after sales priority line number, and the name of the person who I made the booking with, just incase I had any problems or queries regarding my travel arrangements.
Unfortunately for me, the tickets that I received had been printed in the name of Mr. R Smith. Those who know me will vouch for the fact that I am indeed all female, and so I phoned the after sales number (which I had hoped I would not need), and spoke to the young man who I initially dealt with. In order to correct the mistake, which I may add was made by the KLM ticketing department and not DialAFlight, I was asked to return my tickets to DialAFlight by Royal Mail special delivery, at a cost to me of just over 4 pounds. A small price to pay for actually being allowed onto the flight!
I was assured that the tickets would be reprinted and that I would receive them within 2 weeks. However I only got them last week, by courier, exactly a week before I travel. This did worry me a little, and even the calm voice at the after sales office, who assured me that I would get them in time, could not stop me from panicking a little.
So, you might be wondering if I have let my bad ticket experience alter my opinion of DialAFlight. The answer is NO!
I would not hesitate to use them again, as the after sales service that I received was fantastic. The problems that I experienced were not the fault of DialAFlight, and they did their best to keep me informed of the progress of the reprinting. They even did not mind me phoning every few days chucking a wobbly down the phone!
If you are looking for a holiday, flight, or even just a serial browser like my Dad, then I would suggest that you give DialAFlight.com a go. You may be jetting off on a bargain trip before you know it.