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Buying Airfare tix through Expedia or the like

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Sep 8th, 2012, 05:48 AM
  #1
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Buying Airfare tix through Expedia or the like

We travel internationally at least once a year, but I always buy our tickets or cash in awards directly with the airline.
This trip I found the best flight options on Expedia. There are multiple legs and 2 different airlines. I'm gun shy about buying them through Expedia. Should I be? Or am I being crazy?
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Sep 8th, 2012, 07:00 AM
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No reason to be nervous - millions of people do it every day.
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Sep 8th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Expedia claims to be the world's largest "full-service on-line travel agency," if that's any reassurance.
Included in its corporate group are Hotels.com, Venere.com, and Hotwire.com. It also shares ownership with another biggie, TripAdvisor.com, although TA operates separately. This info comes from a recent article in the business section of the Guardian newspaper in the UK and from the corporate website
www.expediainc.com
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Sep 8th, 2012, 07:19 AM
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I've used Expedia with no problems, but I often find the same prices on the airlines' websites.

Although we've often used one airline to go someplace and another to get home, I'd be nervous about using different airlines for two legs in the same direction--what if there's a delay and you miss the connecting flight?
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Sep 8th, 2012, 07:48 AM
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Its an 24 hour overnight connection so I that's ok. I worry because you always read in T&L or Conde Nast the help me ombudsman letters..they always involve these types of sites. But the flights are our best bet!
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Sep 8th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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After your flights are confirmed be sure to get the actual airline locator numbers, not just the Expedia confirmation numbers. Usually, about 24 hours after you book you can look at your Expedia booking and see the airline locators. If you don't, call the airlines directly and get the numbers. Depending on the airline you can then change seats, etc. directly on the airline site.

I have found that Expedia is very difficult to contact at times by phone. You can sit on hold for literally hours.
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Sep 8th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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For a simple, domestic point to point on the same air carrier itinerary I might consider using Expedia, but probably not. Aside from the notoriously bad customer service in case of any irregularity during the trip, another issue with Expedia is the fare you see displayed in search result may not include additional fees (e.g., checked bags) and/or when you go to the purchase page you may find that it is actually not available.
Any airline can sell you the same itinerary you find on Expedia. If you find something you like on Expedia, jot down the details and call your favorite airline, say you want this itinerary and see what they can do. Sometimes they can match or beat the fare without requiring an airline switch, but at the very least they can sell you the itinerary you found on Expedia.
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Sep 8th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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>Any airline can sell you the same itinerary you find on Expedia

Not always. Expedia can put itineraries together with widely mixed carriers. For example a trip using Delta and United. I am 99+% sure Delta, at least, would not book that and the same may hold true for UA.

Nonetheless, I agree on trying to avoid the online TAs primarily because of the lack of service and support after the sale. Miss a flight (say in a mixed carrier situation like above) and it's almost a miracle to get them to even answer a phone much less help.

I do use Expedia for carriers which they have but are not partners with anyone, Aerolineas Argentinas earlier this year is an example, but only for simple out & back flights. Anything more complicated and I use a travel agent; well worth the small fee.
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Sep 8th, 2012, 04:49 PM
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For example a trip using Delta and United. I am 99+% sure Delta, at least, would not book that and the same may hold true for UA.

Actually, Delta can do it, so can just about any other major airline. They would prefer not to, would much rather sell you their own flights, but they can do it.
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Sep 9th, 2012, 08:23 AM
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I've always been to chicken to book any other way except directly with the airlines. I could be mistaken, but it just feels safer to me. And like I have a better chance to fix things, should anything go sideways on the trip. There's no "Expedia" when you're standing at the airport, there ARE airline ticket counters.
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Sep 10th, 2012, 02:18 AM
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I buy tickets on Expedia all the time. I'm looking for a flight right now. I've used them for over a decade. Happy Travels!
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Sep 11th, 2012, 12:12 AM
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Buyer Beware With Expedia.. Etc

More often than not the cheaper fares come from mixing and matching carriers which can be problematic if something goes wrong with one of your mixed carriers. In such case if something does go wrong most airlines may just refer you back to Expedia since they did not make your original booking.

Also if you plan on checking bags make sure you will have enough connection time between flights for your bags to be transferred from one flight or airline to the other.

One problem I see with companies like Expedia is that they often do not allow enough connection time in and out of major hubs like ORD/ATL/EWR. Even if you fly the same airlines, IMO less than 1 hour connection in/out of a major hub is just asking for an unpleasant travel experience

I would definitely compare prices for "seamless traveler" using one airline and it's code share partners. I think you might be surprised that the difference between prices maybe less than $100 and if that is the case I would not favor Expedia.
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Sep 11th, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Seamus,

Like any business, airlines can do a lot of things but selling tickets to travel on the competition is just not a part of any airline ticketing process that I am aware of.

It makes absolutely no business sense to do so especially with so many alliances and code share partners.

The only time passengers from one airline are accommodated on the competition is during unusual circumstances when one carrier has limited options and seats are available on the other airline. Even then tickets are not sold. The original tickets are honored for passage and the airlines settle any airfare difference among themselves.
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Sep 11th, 2012, 08:51 AM
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More often than not the cheaper fares come from mixing and matching carriers which can be problematic if something goes wrong with one of your mixed carriers. In such case if something does go wrong most airlines may just refer you back to Expedia since they did not make your original booking.

While such things are possible, traveling on one PNR/ticket means the airlines are contractually obligated to carry the passenger according to the terms of the ticket. As long as one has the PNR (booking) locator - not the Expedia trip ID but the one issued by the airlines - things should be "normal" at connecting airports or destinations. It's not like buying a ticket through Expedia somehow invalidates all these contractual relationships.

One problem I see with companies like Expedia is that they often do not allow enough connection time in and out of major hubs like ORD/ATL/EWR. Even if you fly the same airlines, IMO less than 1 hour connection in/out of a major hub is just asking for an unpleasant travel experience

Enough time between flights is always good advice. But Expedia and the other online TAs access the same GDS and booking engines that the airlines use; those have fail-safes built in to prevent MCT (minimum connection time) violations. You cannot "force" Expedia into giving you an "illegal" connection, unless you willfully book two separate flights (i.e. two PNRs) with inadequate time spacing. The same applies to baggage. Virtually all major airlines (except the budget airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, et al) have interline baggage agreements that contractually obligate them to carry other airlines' passengers' bags if the flights are all on one ticket. Again, Expedia-issued tickets meet that criteria; two separate bookings doesn't, and increasingly airlines are unwilling to interline bags off separate PNRs.

Can you do better by buying tickets through one airline and rely on them to book connecting flights with their partners? Yes, usually, but it can also be the case that the airline websites will default to connections offering partner seats in a higher booking class (i.e. more expensive) than seats that might be available in a "lower" booking class on another - competitor - airline. Many's the time I've found this, when Expedia could quote a lower overall fare by combining two lower-tier booking class seats rather than one through fare reflecting higher booking classes.
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Sep 11th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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Gardyloo,

Thanks for the info. From inexperience I have seen bookings with what I consider minimal connecting times even if it falls under Expedia or the airline "fail-safe" program.

Your posting is helpful and I hope it will help others to be better informed when booking tickets and making travel plans.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 04:59 AM
  #16
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In light of all the issues with booking with an online TA - we changed our plans so we can book directly with the airline. I felt much more confident with this choice. Thanks to all for posting!!!
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Sep 25th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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MBM,

What was the difference in ticket prices and connections? Please let us know
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Sep 25th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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I've used Expedia frequently without problems but recently had an experience which has persuaded me to go directly to the airline in the future. We had a one ticket/one airline flight on BA from Toronto YYZ to Prague PRA with a connection in LHR. A couple of hours before we were to leave for the airport I was notified by email from BA that our departure was delayed by 2 hours, ensuring that we would miss our connection, as we had only 95 minutes between flights. I phoned BA right away and was assured that when we arrived at YYZ airport we would be ticketed on the next flight from LHR, which would give us about the same 90 min connection time. About an hour after the notice from BA arrived I received one from Expedia telling us of the change and booking us on a flight from LHR which would involve several hours of layover and getting us to our destination late in the evening instead of mid afternoon. The BA ticket agent at YYZ was puzzled that this had been done, and immediately switched us to the next available, as promised. The satisfactory outcome was no thanks to Expedia, so why use them if you can get the same flights by going direct?
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Sep 25th, 2012, 11:40 AM
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By using 3rd-party sites when they offer the cheapest airfare (or best schedule), I've saved thousands of dollars/many hours of time over the years, and never once had a problem because of it.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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DMB,
Our original plan included a one night lay over in Paris on the way to Tel Aviv - but no extended layover on the way back which is why we were considering Expedia's flight - which I think was about $1160. When we removed the Paris layover we were able to book direct with Delta and get a fare of $869.
We were sad to say goodbye to one day in Paris - but the stress and expense (we would still need a hotel too) wasn't worth it to us.
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