I found a great price for our airline tickets on line this morning. I'm ready to book, but am wondering what all of you seasoned travellers think about booking on-line versus booking with at travel agent? Any pros and cons?
I never use a travel agent, and I have booked numerous trips to Europe, Central America, and Asia.
I think most of us have probably drifted to on-line booking, in part, because travel agents are becoming rare. The only disadvantage to on-line is that YOU are totally responsibility for any errors. Just double checking everything -- three times before pushing the sold button.
Thanks - This is what I was wanting to hear. I've book many times on-line for domestic flights, but this is our first time to Europe.
Just make sure the name on your ticket is the same as on your passport. If your passport says "Rochelle" don't book the ticket as Shelly. (Just an example)
Online! I have given up on travel agents (in my city). When I was looking for flights for my complex Asia trip, the agent wanted to charge $25 to cover "research time", which is understandable. I came in the office, not telling them but already having a good idea on how much it would cost since I did a little bit of research. I wanted to see if they can get a better deal. But the price they quoted was a tad more expensive than online or same price as online. So I booked it online myself and I raked in some extra airmiles just for that. =)
Definitely on-line. I haven't used a travel agent in years, and travel frequently, overseas as well as inside North America.
TA wanted $1700 for our flight to Beijing...I just booked my own ticket on Continental's website for $1000
German Rail has something called a German Rail ticket, which is essentially your train ticket to your non-flight destination booked as part of your airfare. It might be at a discount; I haven't been able to figure that part out, but supposedly it has to be booked along with your flight. So I went to my local travel agent to find out about it, and the first thing she told me was that for any airline ticket booked she would have to charge me $50, as her fee.
I now believe that I can do better myself than using my local travel agent.
Adding to that, a few years ago, I booked airfare to Gemany online. Thereafter, having buyers remorse, I called my local travel agent to see what she could have gotten for me. The best she could do was the same fare, PLUS her commission.
I always use a travel agent to book long distance flights, as I've found in the past that my agent has often found a better price or better routing than I've been able to find on internet sites. However, I always research the routes and provide the T.A. with a list of the flights that I would prefer.
One of the reasons I prefer to use a travel agent for the more expensive flights is that the ticket costs are covered here by a Travel Assurance Fund if booked through a licensed T.A. Given some of the recent airline failures, I feel that's a benefit. While I may also be able to get a refund via my credit card, the Assurance Fund would likely be the easier (and perhaps faster) method.
With the less expensive regional flights, I normally just book these myself on the website of the applicable airline.
I haven't checked lately, but I believe Rick still recommends using a Travel Agent.
The reason I often use a travel agent is that, if things go wrong and I need to be rebooked enroute, I've got her emergency number to call. And sometimes I don't even have to call her at all to benefit from having her in my corner. Not long ago, I was at the airport in Seattle waiting for a flight via Chicago when she called me to say that the connecting flight would likely be late, perhaps even cancelled. She said she'd take care of rebooking me to another flight and, while I was enroute to Chicago, she did. I called once I hit the ground in Chicago, and she gave me my new flight info. Would everything have worked out if I hadn't found out about the connecting flight problem till I landed in Chicago? Maybe, maybe not. But that's what I pay her 25 dollar ticketing fee for, to minimize the chances of getting stranded. That's worth the booking fee for me.
When I book fights to Europe, I do all the research and find the flights online myself (so that I can watch for the best deal). Then I go to the travel agent and have them book it. This might seem crazy because you have to pay $25 a ticket for them to book it, but for me it's worth the piece of mind in case any changes incur. But mostly, I do it this way because when I am traveling to Europe I want to make sure I get to sit next to my travel partner. Sometimes when I've booked online for domestic fights, my seat is not the same as the one I registered for. Plus - I like to make sure I have an aisle seat as I have really long legs!
Jenny: ever heard of online seat assignments? Most airlines' website show you a detailed map and let you choose your specific seat. Sometimes you get changed by "the computer" but then you just log on and change it back yourself...just like a TA would do.
Ah, I didn't know you could log in and change them back. I'll have to look into it, thanks for the heads up!
I book my own flights, I pay by Visa , and am covered by it if there airline goes under.. When Zoom ( a Canadian discount airline that went under suddenly ) went out ,, all those who had paid by CC were able to recoup their ticket costs,, but did have to wait and file a claim. The chances of an airline going bankrupt,, even in these bad times, is probaly less then the chance of getting hit by a car on any given day. LOL
I like booking myself, I know I will spend the time to get the best routing, seating, and time.. with an agent you are just trusting her to have produced the best flight,, how do you know. I know some people say they do all the work and then get an agent to book it,, that seems odd to me? Oh well.. . as Tim said, "peace of mind" means me doing it myself.
Jenny: I actually log on regularly to check my seats and make sure I'm still sitting where I want to sit and to also make sure nothing better has opened up. Check www.seatguru.com to find out about pitfalls of your particular seat. It will also tell you which seats are best.
I think that it depends entirely what type of relationship you can develop with a an agent and their skill at knowing the ins and outs of trans-Atlantic flights. Unless they are part of a large agency that buys tickets in volume (a ticket consolidator) their pricing will be no better that what you can find. If they know well how to book a low cost flight, they can also find cheap tickets, but my personal experience has been that I probably know more than they and with little or no commission, not much incentive to spend hours looking for flights. Now if you travel often and you purchase other things from the agent (Cruises, Packages in the Carribean, etc.) then they will be willing to both work a little harder for you, and keep their eye out for deals that you would be interested in. My personal preference is to use online booking, but I do concede that peace of mind is worth a great amount and can be reason enough to use an agent.
Depends. For complicated trips I use my agent. For simple ones, I usually book on-line. I will give her a call and tell her what I am paying, sometimes she can get a better price, sometimes she tells me to book on-line.
I've never equated a TA with "peace of mind". I usually think of a TA as a middleman. My "peace of mind" is knowing that I typed my name in correctly, that I chose my definite airport, that I choose my own times, that I chose my own seats, and that I have a confirmation code from the airlines where I can go at any time and look to see my flight details/status. I don't have to wonder if that middle layer somehow miscommunicated my data to my airlines or hotels.
Let's face facts - the internet has made this profession the buggy whip makers of the 21st century. I stopped using an agent in 1997.
I do most of my travel planning online, but we used a travel agent for our honeymoon tickets. The agent got us tickets that were at least $200 cheaper than published online fare because they came through a consolidator. I don't know the full details of how that works, but the tickets were well priced and there wasn't a fee from the agent.