Avanti Fare Lock

superjohn

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11 Mar 2011
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525
I have received an email from Avanti West Coast. It asked me to complete a short survey with a number of questions as to my views on the availability and value of advance fares. The last section is about a new idea they are considering call Fare Lock. It says:
”Fare lock allows you to lock a fare for at least 24 hours if you book close to departure and at least 72 hours if you book further in advance. You pay a fee to guarantee your travel date and fare, and you have the option to decide not to travel (fee still applies).”

What are people’s thoughts on this? Personally I wouldn’t see myself ever using such a thing. My journeys on Avanti are nearly always booked more than 72 hours in advance and my plans rarely change at the last minute. I would end up paying a lot of the fees before I had occasion to use the offer.

I presume it could only apply to their own fares but I wonder if locking a fare would remove it from the available tier?
 
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CrispyUK

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19 Jan 2019
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Seems to be an idea borrowed from the airline industry. I had the survey and answered that I would be unlikely to use the feature.

I guess it could be useful if you find a good advance fare for a potential trip, but need to make sure you can get a good priced hotel for those dates / secure decent seats at the theatre / make sure your friend(s) are still free that weekend / check Aunt Maggie can pop round to feed the cat whilst you’re gone, etc. before committing. Rather than sorting all that out then finding the train tickets have doubled in price in the interim.

Of course it will depend how it is priced as to how attractive it is, as you will lose that “deposit” if you decide not to go ahead and book. I didn’t get any questions about pricing of the Fare Lock feature in the survey, did anyone who answered that they might use it get asked about pricing?
 

py_megapixel

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I think a pertinent question might be not only whether one would use it, but how much one would pay for it. I wouldn't want it to be cheap enough that people will lock fares "just in case", as that ruins the system for everyone else.

That's assuming that the fare lock does remove it from availability. If it doesn't I can't see how the system could operate, as say a particular service has 4 tickets at price X, if person A locks 3 tickets, then person B buys 2 tickets, and person A goes to buy their 3 tickets again, Avanti have now sold 5 tickets at a price where they were only meant to sell 4. And of course if you're booking for a large group you could use this to game the system somewhat.

Similarly though I'd want it to be less expensive than the difference between the current and next price tiers, otherwise there is little benefit to locking the fares unless many people buy up the tickets at once, which isn't that common an occurrence.

Personally I'd probably never end up using it just because I wouldn't think of doing so, but I can imagine people who would.
 

Merseysider

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I might use it if there is only 1 ticket left at a particular tier and plans are still in the process of being confirmed. Otherwise, probably not.
 

py_megapixel

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I think you've defined a very narrow and precise price band there!
Indeed, and I think that's where the idea falls down.

Looking up Carlisle to London, for example, on your excellent website - two of the Advance tiers are £31.80 and £35.90. I'm unsure if both of those would ever be used on the same service, but I think that kind of difference between advance tiers is perfectly realistic, so let's imagine they are.

The maximum you could sensibly price a fare lock at is about £4, because over that point it will start to work out cheaper just to pay for the next tier. But is £4 cheap enough that people will pay for the lock on the offchance that they might need it? Probably so, and that could lead to a situation like you get with seat reservations, where people do a lock "just in case" and most of the locks end up unused (of course if you're Avanti that's exactly what you want - lots of revenue, that you don't have to share through ORCATS, and that you don't really have to do much to earn)

The case where this doesn't apply is if the time for which you have locked the fares is long enough for the price for everyone else to increase by several tiers. And indeed I do wonder if Avanti plan to count tickets as removed from availability once locked, but never put them back even if the lock expires, therefore making availability on each of the tiers disappear more quickly.
 

Hardcastle

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21 Dec 2013
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Trying to get advance tickets on some Avanti services at the moment is a trial in itself never mind having them locked by someone for 24 or 72 hours while they decide if the really want them. First come first saved is the way.
 

CrispyUK

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19 Jan 2019
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As a comparison, to hold flight prices for 72 hours, BA charge £5 per person short-haul or £10 per person long-haul, which is refunded if you go ahead and book the flight(s). So for flights London to Berlin and back, I can hold the price for £5 per passenger (total, not each way).

Once a Fare Lock expires, putting that ticket back on sale at the original price would seem like the “right” thing to do, but could throw up situations where someone could book an Advance fare, then find the tickets available cheaper a few days later (going against the general railway message that it’s cheaper the earlier you book).

It could also give the situation where someone has paid for Fare Lock, but actually it is cheaper for them to make a fresh booking, rather than going ahead to purchase their locked fare.
 

route101

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16 May 2010
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Trying to get advance tickets on some Avanti services at the moment is a trial in itself never mind having them locked by someone for 24 or 72 hours while they decide if the really want them. First come first saved is the way.
Was looking at Advance fares next week Glasgow to London and return, looks mostly sold out.
 

Llandudno

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25 Dec 2014
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1,284
Seems to be an idea borrowed from the airline industry. I had the survey and answered that I would be unlikely to use the feature.

I guess it could be useful if you find a good advance fare for a potential trip, but need to make sure you can get a good priced hotel for those dates / secure decent seats at the theatre / make sure your friend(s) are still free that weekend / check Aunt Maggie can pop round to feed the cat whilst you’re gone, etc. before committing. Rather than sorting all that out then finding the train tickets have doubled in price in the interim.

Of course it will depend how it is priced as to how attractive it is, as you will lose that “deposit” if you decide not to go ahead and book. I didn’t get any questions about pricing of the Fare Lock feature in the survey, did anyone who answered that they might use it get asked about pricing?
On the face of it seems a good idea, but it is yet another complicated ticket added to the myriad of tickets already in use on the railway.

It is something I might consider if I was planning to attend a cricket match though, if the weather forecast looked iffy I could cancel my ticket!
 

Trackman

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28 Feb 2013
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Lewisham
Trying to get advance tickets on some Avanti services at the moment is a trial in itself never mind having them locked by someone for 24 or 72 hours while they decide if the really want them. First come first saved is the way.
It is woeful at the moment.
A week on Friday there is a £27.70 (MAN-EUS) one and the following Friday £25.70, but you've got to be up at Sparrow's fart to catch it.
After that, you might be lucky to find a £54 standard.
I've also asked the question if they will abolish social distancing and change the quotas, which fell on deaf ears. You also might have the problem of people moaning the price of the advance has dropped since booking, but you can now re-book for free now.
Let's see what happens, if they want to keep social distancing (like some places are doing after 'freedom day' as I've read today) and burn £50 notes, you are going to lose more pax.
As for the 'Fare Lock' - see above. It just wouldnt work at the moment.
 

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