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Can travel agents get any better price?

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Jun 8th, 2005, 09:38 PM
  #1
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Can travel agents get any better price?

i'm trying to book a flight for my mother - nothing exciting, just phx to o'hare. given that she's retired, i really want to be sure i'm getting her the best deal possible. she had planned to go through a travel agent until i got involved and started checking fares. i would hate to book a flight and then learn an agent could have done better by her.

i've thought for ages that finding your own flight online is always going to be cheaper. would you say that is actually true?

thanks for any thoughts.

-ann
anniegal2 is offline  
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Jun 9th, 2005, 05:45 AM
  #2
 
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annie....I think it is safe to say that ANY Travel Agent will charge a fee on top of the actual fare.So if the fare is say $168.00,you would pay that PLUS the fee.Most TA's fees are in the $25 to $50 per ticket range.Unless you or in this case your Mom already have a relationship with a TA, you are probably not going to find an agent who will "dig" to find you the best fare.They want to pump out those tickets and fees, boom boom boom.There will always be exceptions.Best of luck! I hope this helps.....Stephen
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Jun 9th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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It depends on two things: 1. The ability of the travel agent; and 2. Your ability.

Not all travel agents are experts, and I suspect fewer and fewer of them are knowledgeable about air travel, as the airlines are no longer offering them a commission, so there isn't money to be made there, other than by charging you a fee. However, there was once a thread here by an unfortunate woman who booked her own tickets to Europe. Because she did not know to book the whole flight on a single ticket, she had to pay thousands of dollars to get on her overseas flight when her initial flight was delayed and she missed the connection. I like to think a travel agent would have enough knowledge to have prevented that problem.

On the other hand, not all travelers are knowledgeable. For instance, if price is the prime consideration, just going to sites like Expedia or Travelocity may not get you the best deal, as they usually do not search for some of the deep discount airlines. Southwest, for example, I believe does not sell tickets through any of the services; you have to go to their site to find their prices, which are often quite good. I don't mean to favor Southwest; its just a good example of the type of low price airlines that are cropping up.

That said, I do not use a travel agent, in part because I have the time to do a lot of research, and in part because I don't favor the type of packaged deals they offer, which seem to me too structured where I prefer a lot of flexibility.
clevelandbrown is offline  
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Jun 9th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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For simple domestic flights, an agent will not find you better fare, but will charge you a fee.

Just go to a major booking site - Expedia, Orbitz, etc... or beta.itasoftware.com to compare prices and find the flight you want. AND check www.southwest.com. [Keep in mind that southwest give you an intial price their flight without tax. Make sure you go far enough to get the actual fare with tax.]

Then go to the airline's own website and book the flight you researched elsewhere.
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Jun 11th, 2005, 05:52 AM
  #5
tmh
 
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Some agents - because of their size - could have special arrangmeents with a a particular airline that whould compensate the fees they charge.

Can I assume your mom is over 50? Maybe a discount through booking w/ AARP? AAA also has services but no clue as to what they can do. Check the coupons on the back of those Entertainment books - maybe help there.

Pls note - I"ve not tried these but are boasts of other friends so not sure of their reality.
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Jun 11th, 2005, 09:05 AM
  #6
Cassandra
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Anniegal, suggest you follow 2-step procedure I always do: 1. go to www.orbitz.com or travelocity or expedia and see who flies nonstop, how much they're charging at that website. 2. go to the home webpage of the airlines with best deals and plug in your itinerary. Most of the time,you'll get exactly the same "deal." A few airlines are now guaranteeing you won't find a lower fare than what they charge on their own website. A quick check of my own for the PHX-ORD trip yields America West, United, and American between $200-$250 for a nonstop. (Oddly, USAir wants over $500 and they're codeshare with United...)

In addition, remember that there are probably discount airlines not listed on orbitz et al (e.g., Southwest, which flies to Midway instead of ORD).

IMHO Going through a travel agent is really not efficient for this kind of trip.
 
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Jun 11th, 2005, 09:07 AM
  #7
Cassandra
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Reason for 2-step instead of just booking through orbitz, etc.? When you book through airline directly, they have to deal with any problems that come up - vs. insisting you get back to orbitz (which sometimes is very difficult). And, occasionally, I've actually found a lower fare on their own website.
 
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Jun 12th, 2005, 05:34 AM
  #8
 
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Used to work for United and they used to have a really good rate for senior citizens to/from Phoenix/Chicago. Give them a call cause I'm not sure it is still available or if it can be found on-line.
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