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Be as wary as you like, but it’s all true…

When people start throwing around words like “magic” and “bargain”, it’s good to be wary. With that said, there really is a website which has been making my last minute travel dreams come true, with savings not found anywhere else. If last minute travel is occasionally a thing for you, you really do need to give this website a whirl. For now, it’s spitting out some kind of magic on American Airlines and British Airways – and perhaps even others…

a screenshot of a flight scheduleBackstory

Last week we wrote about CTrip, the largest travel agency in China, which owns Trip.com. We’d heard a rumor last year that CTrip.com occasionally offered lower prices on British Airways than any other website, including booking directly with the airline, especially for last minute tickets. We held the rumor in our back pocket, until a need arose last week for a booking one day before travel. CTrip saved $300 per ticket on just a one way journey. Now, on American Airlines, lightning has struck twice…


CTrip owns Trip.com, and they make up the largest travel agency in China. There are various versions of the website, and we always navigate to the Hong Kong English version when given the chance to choose. This week we needed a flight for travel in 4 days, between New York and Washington DC. There were decent options around the $320 mark, especially if you booked two separate one way tickets, but nothing at all under $300. On Trip.com however, an ideal itinerary on American Airlines was available at $1650HKD, which is about $205USD. Sure, it’s not the $300 per person savings of last week on British Airways, but it saved $100+.

a plane flying in the skyHow?

It’s a bit unknown really. Guesses have been ventured that perhaps being the largest travel agent in China gives you access to extra low fare inventory on American Airlines, British Airways and perhaps others, or that the company is able to take fares that are traditionally “bundle” only fares, meant for hotel + flight deals an unbundle them. No one knows exactly why, but at the moment, it’s certainly an exciting magic carpet ride for those who need last minute travel. First, you receive a payment confirmation with no booking details, and then within an hour you receive your e-ticket.


Will this always work and save money? Of course not. But at the moment, it’s 2/2 on travel within 7 days on American Airlines and British Airways respectively. We’re not saying you’re guaranteed to get the best flight deal of your life via CTrip, but rather just that it’s certainly worth a browse, if you’re faced with expensive last minute flights or really, on any flight search. We approach every travel booking with the arsenal mentality of “what can we do to try to make this better”, and this is now a part of the flight search arsenal.

Have you played around with CTrip?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Easy explanation of what they are doing:
    For U.S. domestic flights they book married segments, break them with a trick and hide the break so they won’t receive an ADM.
    This way they can offer a much lower booking class + fare.

    For international oneways they book fake returns so the tickets get issued with a RT fare instead of OW.

    How do I know this? Booked several times with them to investigate what they are doing. Since I work for a company that has access to all reservations made in that reservation system it was easy to find out.

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