Booking Obscure Airlines with OneTravel

There is a wide world of airlines that are exceedingly difficult to ticket remotely, whether from the airlines’ website or major travel booking websites. The airlines’ own website may reject credit cards not from that country or have onerous booking processes that require doing things in-country, faxing copies of credit cards, and other that I do not want to do. Listing on major websites presumably comes down to technology and money.

Traditional travel agents often can issue tickets on these airlines, however my goal is no-hassle online booking with no or minimal fees. At times I have found some websites, Vayama and Lastminute’s UK site (for some reason the US site has fewer airlines) are two examples, that can issue tickets I need but with exorbitant charges.

This week I needed tickets on Rossiya and Estonian Air that failed in Priceline and aggregators like Hipmunk and Kayak had no alternative recommendations, except a few to ticket Rossiya as Aeroflot codeshares for double the price. Rossiya’s own website does not support multi-city bookings and from what I read, it typically rejects non-Russian cards.

Gliding past a couple hours of pain that involved failed attempts at every site I knew and even a Russian site that similarly did not like my credit cards, I eventually landed on Las Vegas-based OneTravel that boasts ticketing on 450+ airlines.

The booking engine works well and ticket issuance is a hybrid of online and offline. They issue tickets within a couple hours with disclaimers that nothing is guaranteed 100% until issued. So essentially they are a traditional travel agent with a great website. There were no fees on my Rossiya ticket and a few dollars on Estonian that were mostly offset by an automatic coupon code. They email once issued and then it is best to go back to the reservation and print it out with the ticket number and record locator.

OneTravel Estonian Air

OneTravel Estonian Air Confirmed

Easy and a relief. I wish I knew about them long ago. I would have been spared some choice encounters with the likes of Solomon Airlines, Air Algerie, and more.

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  • Interesting that you had trouble booking online with Estonia Air. We had no issues when we flew them in 2007 from Copenhagen to Tallinn.

    One of the biggest pains that came to mind when I read your post was booking flights on Egypt Air a few years ago.

  • This reminds me of trying to buy train tickets in Spain. In theory, a US card should work. But I tried about 10 times for each ticket before it successfully processed. A big part of the problem was hiccups with the stupid Verified by Visa program.

  • Timo

    Estonian Air also has functional website, where you could do bookings http://estonian-air.ee/en/ , however, yes, for 10EUR ticketing fee.

    How long will you stay here? I’m most likely in Tallinn then as well.

  • I’ve used Vayama many times and they work well (they also are like OneTravel and your booking isn’t confirmed until they email you). But unlike you they didn’t charge me any fees (and have generally been tied for lowest cost with the airline sites themselves). Another site to try is bravofly.com. They are owned by one of the largest tour operators in Europe and are similar to OneTravel and Vayama in that there is a delay in booking after submitting. However, they generally show the lowest fares without fees, like the others.

    All these sites are also eligible for cashback websites too, so you can save ~$10 per ticket.

  • Used to use onetravel all the time for tickets i couldn’t do on Expedia et al but for no particular reason at all I haven’t booked with them for quite some time.

  • @Michael W Travels – for Estonian I did not try their own website, however Priceline did fail, and then I turned to onetravel.

    @Scottrick – Verified by Visa is a huge pain. I haven’t booked Air Asia in a while but that was one that I could not get anything to work until I tried Amex cards which do not have irritating Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode. Any time I see the Verified thing pop up I hold my brief that the transaction will fail.

    @Gary – not traveling to interesting places? 😉

  • @Shane – thanks for the bravofly recommendation, another to bookmark and try in these cases. My Vayama experience is limited and I suppose I shouldn’t judge anyone on Rossiya, except perhaps myself for trying to fly them, however Vayama tacked an extra $60 to a $221 ticket.

    @Timo – Europe in general has so much more of an add-on fee culture than the US in so many ways, and when I encounter fees my instinct is to fight out of proportion to avoid them.

    The way all my itinerary worked I was either going to spend little time in Tallinn or more than I wanted, so I went with little and will get in late one night and fly out the next afternoon. Seems a sleepy place, even the car rental agencies at the airport seem all to close by 7 pm…though they can stay open…yep, you guessed it, for a 30+ euro fee. So I will not drive and confine myself to Tallinn. I will drive around Latvia and Lithuania, though, and separately also Kaliningrad. Flying in and out of Kaliningrad to avoid what sound like awful land border crossings.

    It would be fun to meet up, I will email you.

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  • Drama!

    I’ve used Vayama before, but this is nice to add to the bag of tricks!

  • Mark

    Recently wasn’t able to purchase LionAir tickets direct from the airline’s website with any US issued card. I found tiket.com which worked without issue.

  • @Mark – thanks for the suggestion, that is a new site to me that I will check out.

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