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Anonymous19 Nov 2010
Online ticketing issues were discussed in the forum before, however I would like to know more about others experiences.
Normally for my business trip, I have to go via company travel agent and do not have much choice.
However for our vacations, I am booking tickets online in various ways; and of late getting mixed results. For about 7-8 years ago I started online booking directly from Airlines webpage. Then about 4-5 years ago, I realized that independent service webpage that provide comparing service, could give a ticket with lower price. And then found tour operators could provide even lower price, if someone is slightly flexible. However, once I have to change ticket and had to pay through my nose for the change whereas if I buy ticket directly from airlines webpage, the change is somewhat cheaper and easier.
Now again I am fishing for vacation ticket and found to my surprize that booking directly from airlines is cheaper. This is true for tickets to SE Asia or South Asia.
Is there any pattern or does it changes with season or economic situation?
What is the best way to buy online?19 Nov 2010
It is true that airfares change depending on the season and economic situations. In such cases, it becomes very difficult to decide on which is the best solution to book tickets. I have also come across the same scenario and decided to go with an online booking tool to book my tickets which has proved to be more profitable for me. It’s helped me save travel agent fees as well.31 Jan 2011
Many airlines introduced an online booking guarantee to counter the rise of discounted online tickets.
Sometimes you *can* undercut the airlines (e.g. the recent opodo £35 off offer which I posted here) but it’s usually marginal saving and in my opinion better to book direct if you’re using a single carrier and especially so if you have status with that airline.31 Jan 2011
The other problem i came across, booking direct online, is when you travel across different classes. For example, on my trip to S. Africa in September, I was in F, wife in C and kids (7 & 11) in Y.
The problem is I can book my ticket, then my wife’s, but the booking engine will not allow bookings for the kids as they are under 12 and therefor classed as “Unaccompanied Minors” which cannot be booked online. There is no way to book her in C and the kids in Y at the same time.
We resolved it by calling direct and were pleasantly surprised to get an even lower fare than was being quoted on the web. Admittedly it was not massive, but still amounted to a few hundred €’s.
To their credit, and I have not seen this with other airline sites, you can book a return journey with Swiss in different classes and in all fare categories. For example, my trip to NY was out in C, as I consider that a day flight, and back in F, which is a night flight and for which I want a bed. It also makes it easier if you intend to upgrade one leg.1 Feb 2011
too many variables to say which is cheaper (some agents have discounted deals due to volumes), but if you are getting round about the same price – I would ALWAYS book through an agent.
Reason being, if things go wrong, the agent will help sort it out. Think ASH Crisis airspace closures of last year – my company had various staff abroad, booked via our company agent and some who had booked directly with the airlines (we didnt have a mandate to use the company travel agent then).
Those who booked direct with airlines faced frustration of not getting through due to high volume of calls, those abroad had conflicting information and huge queses at airports – those booked via the agent (I was one) got a call from them asking what I wanted to do, and then they booked me overland (train) and a ferry back to UK, then a train to home once back in the UK. OK, it was a long journey home, but I was back days before those who booked direct with the airlines – and our company has now mandated the use of our company travel agent.31 Mar 2011
There are always slight variances in flight costs, and the factors are too numerous to make an easy statement on the subject.
That said however, the above posts highlight the main reasons for using an agent vs doing it yourself – those being:
Time – any saving made is usually outweighed by the time spent trawling the web to find the best deal.
When things go wrong – From a traveller perspective, this is the main bonus, if anything goes wrong, you contact the agent and they sort it out, saving HUGE amounts of stress and worry. The ASH crisis was a perfect example, an agent was able to utilise its relationships with the airlines, and experteese in alternative forms of travel to arrange some ingenious ways back to the UK, at no immediate cost to the traveller, and all for a small fee.
Agents online booking sites now look at not just GDS content, but low cost and other online sites via API feeds, meaning that any differance should be minimal.
Agents (by and large) also have financial guarentees in place, so your money is protected if the airline goes into liquidation (think Silverjet a few years ago).7 Jul 2011
I have not seen this with other airline sites, you can book a return journey with Swiss in different classes and in all fare categories. For example, my trip to NY was out in C, as I consider that a day flight, and back in F, which is a night flight and for which I want a bed. It also makes it easier if you intend to upgrade one leg.??
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We don’t know if this will help, but it is actually a battle of “who gets it first”. A battle between travel agencies and airline website.
Some travel agencies / booking website will try to block all cheap seats in a specific plane/flight, so that they will be the only ones who can offer the lowest price (this is if they have the booking system too like the ones used by airlines).
Travel agency and airline can give out low priced seats while cheap seats last, battling each other on who will get it first. Seat prices may go up or down depending if customers will book or cancel their flight.
This is why it is strongly recommended that passengers should book their flights months ahead, so there will be a bigger chance that the travel agency or airline will find cheap seats for you that are available on that specific plane/flight, on that specific time, on that specific day.
Another, you might already know this.. Flights are cheaper if you purchase in the origin of the flight. (i.e. If you are from France, find a booking agency from France. There is a big chance that they will give you cheaper flight compare if you book through an agency who is located on your next destination.)
Also, flights are cheaper if you choose Tuesday and Wednesday as your departure day. Cheap return flights are mostly on Mondays. And Saturday Sundays are the most expensive day to fly.
Hope this helps.8 Jul 2015