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Airline vs Other Websites

Does anyone else have the “issue” in that the Airline website alwas seams to have cheaper (not cheep) flights then sites like Google Flight or CheapOAir or what have you?

I fly out of Metro Detroit so my usual airline is Delta because it is a hub for them. And pretty much everyone else has at least 1 stop. But the other major airlines are also usually cheaper on the company web site.

So is this just me?
Is this a Detroit Metro thing?
Am I doing something wrong?

Posted by
8597 posts

djm, it seems like people have all sorts of experiences with this, but generally I see the same or lower fares on the airlines' sites. I think the difference being in the connections, if you dont have direct or non-stop service to Europe from your airport. Sometimes the third-party sites come up with undesirable routings or impractical layovers. Often, I see the overseas segment is less than the domestic connecting flight. But its not an issue for us. Just another reason to not use the third party sites.

Posted by
27362 posts

I do my research on Google Flights (which doesn't sell tickets itself) and then go to the airline website to buy. I haven't observed price differences between the two, but it's common for Google Flights itself to show that a code-share flight may be selling at somewhat different prices from the various airlines involved.

Posted by
7050 posts

I'm not sure I understand your post. When you search for fares on an airline website, you're using their algorithms to obtain a certain set of results based on certain parameters which are shown in some order that's set by the algorithm (and according to your filters and preferences). Third party sites have their own algorithms (using their own parameters, sometimes including impossibly short but legal connection times) and they can cobble up fare results from code-share airlines that you wouldn't necessarily see on one airline website because they don't have integrated systems that sell each other's tickets. There is a substantial overlap between airline and third party search results, but it's the area where there is no overlap that gives third parties a reason to exist (otherwise, they'd just be replicating the airline's own search results and that has zero value to anyone). Also, third party sites package fares with hotels and rental cars so you're not comparing apples to apples, since airline websites only sell airline tickets. It sounds like you have little competition for your airport if you have a single "go to" airline.

I've used both airline and third party sites and can attest that you can get substantial savings using a third party site. But it always depends. It's not true of every itinerary or every airport. You have a better chance when you live near an airport(s) that have a lot of competition on a particular route. It's worth comparing both, and knowing the pros and cons of using third parties versus airline sites.

Posted by
1103 posts

Occasionally I have run into situations where a reasonable itinerary is simply not available on the airline website but is available on a third party site.

Posted by
1792 posts

I encourage everyone to use the incognito window when searching all sites for travel. I have read in the past and heard that airlines and 3rd party sites track your cookies and other things and when you enter the sight it uses that previous information you entered, if it is an identical search, you may get a slightly higher fare. This entices people to book immediately to avoid more price increases. I have tested this and found, there was a difference using the incognito window and a regular window and have seen a difference of a couple hundred dollars. Just a tip.

Posted by
692 posts

Oh hey look! Here comes the cookie monster urban myth.

Changes in price are a reflection of changes in inventory and not because of cookies

Posted by
1792 posts

VAP...that is accurate, but I have seen it happen myself, especially with 3rd party hotel sites. The same way they tell you "only one room left". It is a suggestion. It can't hurt.

Posted by
740 posts

Detroit is by some counts the 17th busiest airport in the US. So it has a lot of options with pretty much all the major airlines, That being said it is a very busy Delta hub. As such for direct flights Delta has the most options.

What I don’t understand is that on many of the third party sites you either don’t get a listing for some flights or you can get cheaper options for some flights on the airline web site.