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Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

Eugene, Oregon
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Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

I am travelling to Phnom Penh in about two months to do volunteer work for six months. I am having a heep of complications trying to figure out the most affordable and best way to purchase my place ticket. Affordable is key as I am still working to raise funds to support my volunteer time.

I was told by two family friend travel agents to go through an airline directly. That if i used a website that packages your flights together, you are likely to get different airlines and this may add on extra complications such as having to retrieve your luggage and go through customs in order to catch a connecting flight along the way. They explained that by going through an airline directly, that you could avoid this from happening.

I am also trying to figure out if it is necessary for me to have my return flight back to the USA be from my original destination. I am thinking of travelling to Thailand at the end of my volunteer time. It would make more sense financially for me to return to the USA from Thailand, not Cambodia. However, I was told that it was necessary for my return flight to be from the same destination. That it is possible that the airlines could give me issues when trying to get to Cambodia.

Does anyone have airlines they have used before that they could recommend?

I am hoping for something that will allow me to have two large checked bags (I realized this may cost extra). Also an airline with a flexible policy on flight changes, would be such a plus!

If anyone can help me with these above headaches, it would be greatly appreciated!

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

<<I was told by two family friend travel agents to go through an airline directly.>>

Well you may need to use a travel agent anyway. There is no airline that serves PDX-PNH entirely on their own metal, so you'll have a multi-carrier itinerary, possibly with code shares. The important point here is to either book directly with the airline (if you can) or use a **reputable full service** travel agent. Avoid online bookers/agents as their service can indeed be poor to appalling.

One way to do research is to use http://matrix.itasoftware.com to look for itineraries. Matrix gives you (as good as you can get publicly) live fares and itineraries, from which you can book directly with the airline or take the fare information to a full service agent for booking.

<<I am also trying to figure out if it is necessary for me to have my return flight back to the USA be from my original destination.>>

You need to check the entry/visa requirements for Cambodia, but usually any onward ticket requirement is for confirmed **onward** air tickets out of the country (onward, not return to origin). Note that some requirements do require confirmed **air** tickets out of the country, not rail or bus, so you need to be careful on that.

In your case, you may want to consider an open jaw ticket. That's PDX-PNH outbound, and BKK-PDX return. Open jaws are priced as round trips, not as two one ways.Then look at a separate ticket between Cambodia and Bangkok.

Airlines that serve PNH and BKK include Asiana (my favorite), EVA, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific/Dragonair, plus some of the PRC carriers. All those would require a feeder on another airline from PDX, so look at a multi-carrier itinerary with Alaska, United or Air Canada as the feeder to the gateway airport (Seattle, San Francisco or Vancouver).

Hope that helps, good luck and have a great trip.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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2. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

Why not just purchase an open-jaw ticket so you can stop in both places (USA-Phnom Penh and Bangkok-USA). Notice I don't use PDX, because you will find that PDX might not be the cheapest/best place to start. Depending on the date and other circumstances, it's often cheaper to fly out of Seattle for me (or San Francisco or even Vancouver).

Like USBusinessTraveller, I also use ITA Matrix (Google) to search for flights, and I also have a major preference for Asiana (I also am a member of their FF program/Star Alliance). You should know that summer travel is generally more expensive because the demand is greater. I generally travel to Vietnam off season and pay about 1K for the airfare (I paid $1004. in March '14 for an open jaw on Asiana into Hanoi and out of Saigon).

To use open jaw, use the multi-destination option, and enter 2 segments (for instance, PDX-PNH and BKK-PDX). ITA Matrix will only show you availability - you must purchase on another site. Since the Asiana site in the States is a little hard to manipulate, I use third party sites to purchase. Lately, I've had very good luck with Priceline non-bidding (I also use others such as Expedia, Vayama, Orbitz).

If you do book Asiana, you will notice that many return flights to the States require you to make a lengthy transit at ICN Seoul. Asiana has always given me a free hotel room for the transit day-use - you would need to call Asiana's 800 phone to reserve that room after booking. Korean Air also has this service, but I'm not 100% sure they give the service during peak summer travel?

If you need help, just PM me. When you use ITA Matrix, use the calendar option, and look at a few different dates - prices depend on demand and change from day to day. Neither country requires you to pre-arrange your visa, but Cambodia might want a passport picture - better check.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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3. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

You have little or no flexibility when using low priced/restricted tickets, however some airlines (including Asiana) sometimes allow changes for a small fee (free or $200.) for the return leg - the unrestricted/high priced ticket would be ridiculous (in the thousands).

Athens, Greece
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4. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

You would probably save yourself a lot of money if you booked into one of the gateway cities in Asia. Phnom Penh is usually a lot more as a final destination. Why not just try Bangkok as your destination. You will see that the price of a flight on Air Asia to Phnom Penh return is less than $120.00 return. You could even fly into Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and return from Bangkok. This could cut the cost of your airfare by several hundred dollars. I flew into Bangkok and out of Kuala Lumpur last month on Turkish Airlines and saved myself about 400 GBP. Air Asia from Bangok to Phnom Penh was about $50. Once you're in Bangkok, KL or Singapore everything is close together and really quite cheap.

Good luck!

Eugene, Oregon
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5. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

Great Idea! I will certainly look into options with these tips and tricks.

You all have been a real life saver. I was about to hire a travel agent last week. Now since to all you awesome individuals on this forum, I feel confident to continue without hiring someone to help.

I am in love with this resource. I will surely return the favor and spread the word to others as I can.

Fortaleza, CE
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6. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

I'd probably start with third party sites such as Expedia, American Express, Kayak, etc. to get an idea of comparative airfares among airlines (and using different departure/arrival cities). I'd probably still book directly with the airline I chose. Just looking at one-way PDX-PNH fares on an arbitrary date in September, using the Am Ex travel site, I found fares ranging from $642-$1494, with 2 stops (the first of which was usually Seattle or Vancouver). Doesn't seem too bad to me. Cheapest was Eva Air, with stops in Seattle and Taipei. Cheapest U.S. airline (in case you want that) was Delta, with stops in Seattle and Seoul.

BTW, in most places you don't actually hire a travel agent. You should be able to get fare quotes from them for free.

Edited: 3:00 pm, June 09, 2014
Fortaleza, CE
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7. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

p.s. the Eva Air option included Alaska Airlines from PDX to SEA.

8. Re: Seeking advice: Portland to Phnom Penh Airfare

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