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80% Discounted Flight Tickets on Secondhand Platforms Raise Concerns

With the approaching Chinese New Year holiday, there is a surge in demand for travel. However, recent reports highlight a concerning trend on secondhand trading platforms such as Xianyu, where numerous agents are selling “ultra-low-priced airline tickets.” Some claim to waive airport and fuel surcharges, offering discounts as high as 80% off official airline website prices, significantly lower than those on third-party booking platforms.

Are these budget-friendly tickets reliable? Investigations reveal that purchasing such low-cost tickets may lead to issues like inability to board, no refund options, and potential involvement in illicit online activities.

So, where do these “ultra-low-priced tickets” come from? Ticket agents, including both online travel agency (OTA) platforms and various ticket agents, typically distribute airline tickets obtained from carriers. Legitimate ticket agents sell tickets at prices similar to those on OTA platforms.

Tickets significantly below market prices, however, may be sold by unauthorized ticket dealers, often referred to as “black ticket agents.”

Black ticket agents utilize two main methods to acquire discounted tickets: credit card theft and mileage redemption. Credit card theft involves illegally obtaining someone’s credit card information, purchasing tickets with it, and reselling them to consumers at prices much lower than the market rate.

This poses a risk to the original cardholder, who might bear the loss until the theft is discovered.

Mileage redemption, a legitimate system offered by airlines, allows passengers to accumulate points with each purchase and redeem them for benefits, including ticket discounts. Unscrupulous dealers exploit this system by accumulating miles through unauthorized means, such as purchasing miles from third parties, stealing them, or using credit card points to exchange for miles.

These practices are illegal and pose significant risks to consumers. To avoid falling victim to “black ticket agents,” it is advisable to purchase tickets through reputable channels such as airline websites or OTA platforms. Consumers should also request proof of the agent’s sales qualifications before making a purchase.

Furthermore, it is essential to compare ticket prices across multiple platforms. While flight prices can vary due to factors like operating costs, supply and demand, and market competition, excessively low prices may signal potential risks.

For those purchasing tickets on secondhand trading platforms, delaying the confirmation of receipt is recommended. Legitimate tickets are typically issued within minutes of purchase, but cheaper tickets might experience delays or cancellations.

Waiting until after the flight has landed to confirm receipt provides a safer window, as the platform retains the payment during this period, making refund requests more manageable in case of disputes.

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