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Suggestion for travel agent just to book flights?

Suggestion for travel agent just to book flights?

Old Jul 15th, 2017, 06:57 AM
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Suggestion for travel agent just to book flights?

Hi! I am trying to plan a complicated flight itinerary for my family. It is an international trip primarily from the US to South Africa, but with multiple stopovers. We are staying with my parents in SA, so I don't need an agent to book all the hotels, and the agent I talked to about flights plus hotels in one stopover location found a hotel that doesn't look particularly great for our family and didn't seem to find airfare much cheaper than what I found looking myself.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a travel agent who could help with a complicated flight itinerary, even if for a small fee? I saw on another thread that someone used a service like that.

Thanks!
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 07:25 AM
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>>but with multiple stopovers.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 07:37 AM
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Why do you need a travel agent? They rarely have access to rates that are lower than you can find yourself.

You can use at the "multi-city" option on your airline or travel website of choice to find different flight & fare options. Once you have flight itinerary worked out it's a simple matter of booking any hotels (if needed) for any stopovers. I recently booked a complex 6 week, 4 continent, 15 stop around the world itinerary using just the internet.

However, if you you do feel you need to use a TA then I'd suggest you find one in your local area so you can communicate in person if necessary rather than deal long distance with someone you don't know. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations or check with your local Better Business Bureau.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 07:53 AM
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In North America travel agents haven't received commissions on airfares for decades, so the level of expertise is very low. You really can do this yourself, save money and learn the ropes in the process.

I used to have a business that did this for people, usually involving things like round-the-world tickets or putting together very complicated itineraries using frequent flyer miles and points. I closed it some years ago, mainly because my clients figured out how to do it on their own and didn't need to pay me my (paltry)fees.

Give me an idea of your plans - where to where, when, economy or business etc. - and I'll do my best. (Free of course.)

Also visit http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ and learn to use it. It's a very powerful tool, the gold standard in searching airfares.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 10:53 AM
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Thank you for your responses! This does give me a little more courage to just book tickets myself. I have just heard/read stories about major issues with flight itineraries with stopovers where something goes wrong like a flight delay and then you're in big trouble. I thought the peace of mind of having a travel agent to sort things out plus their supposed ability to find cheaper tickets would be helpful. It is encouraging to hear that people do this on their own just fine.

Thanks for your kind offer, Gardyloo! I will give that website a try and do some looking myself. Is there a way to message you if I decide I could use some more advice?

Thanks again everyone- this forum is amazing!
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 11:06 AM
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One more question- if I book a flight from Denver to Johannesburg with a stopover in London (and I stay on the same airline), would my checked luggage stay at the airport and go all the way through to Johannesburg, or would I get all the luggage, take it through customs, and then recheck it a couple of days later when I leave London?

Another way to phrase that is, would I have access to my checked baggage, or would I need to bring a carry on with all the necessities for the stopover because the checked baggage stays in the holds of the airline until the final destination?

Thanks!
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 11:56 AM
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If you are stopping over for a few days in London (or any other international layover city) you HAVE to clear Immigration, claim all your luggage and clear Customs as you will be entering Great Britain. You'll then have to then keep your luggage with you while visiting/staying in your layover cry (in your case London). On the day you depart London for Johannesburg you go to the airport to check in, get your boarding pass (if you have not already checked in and printed out your boarding pass online) and then re-check your luggage the day you depart on your continuing flight. Just so you know, no matter where you go in the world (whether domestically or internationally) airlines WILL NOT hold your luggage if you have an overnight stay in any destination.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 12:01 PM
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There are problems with nomenclature that can't be avoided. A "stopover" generally means a period of 24 hours or longer. Shorter than that is usually termed a "connection." In your case, if your stop in London was overnight or for something like 12 hours or more, you'd have to go through British passport control, claim your bags and go through customs. Most airports, including all of the terminals at Heathrow, have luggage storage facilities that are inexpensive and very convenient. I certainly would prefer that to leaving my bags unattended at some distant airport.

Obviously if your layover is just between flights the same day, then your bags will be checked through to South Africa, provided both flights are on the same ticket, i.e. purchased in the same transaction.

Without details it's impossible to generalize, but as a rule multi stop itineraries will cost more then the same route flown with no stopovers. Lengthy stopovers can even cause the flights to be priced as one-ways, which usually causes the price to spike.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 12:24 PM
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>>a couple of days later when I leave London?
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 01:24 PM
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exactly, you are trying to call a several day stay in a country a "stopover" on an existing flight, and you can't do that. This is just two different flights, one to London and then to SA.

I know some higher end travelers may use a TA for those kind of trips, or ones to countries where you need a lot of handlers and arrangements (and you have the money to make that kind of trip). I don't personally know of any travel agent who just does airfare, but I think they will for a fee. They probably know more than you, so you could find out, but I think the people who use TAs who get good itineraries for them use ones they have used for many other trips, or perhaps one who handles their business bookings, things like that. I think people often use local ones they know.

I am pretty sure if you book the same airline (if such a layover were allowed), the only airline you could do that on with only one stop in London would be BA/AA, because other airlines are going to want to transfer in Europe at their own hub airport, not London. BA is the only iarline that flies DEN to LHR nonstop. So it all depends on how many stops you are willing to make.
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Old Jul 15th, 2017, 08:10 PM
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Wow- great information! It is so nice to be able to ask a question and have seasoned travelers who know what you are talking about give your advice and share your wisdom. Your answers were exactly what I needed to know! Thank you!
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Old Jul 16th, 2017, 05:45 AM
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Multi-day stopovers are allowed with many tickets; the specific rules of the "fare class" cover this. On the cheapest fares stopovers usually are either prohibited or come with a very high fee; on higher-priced tickets (still economy or business, just a different set of rules) the fees might be less or not there at all.

So we know that you're contemplating a stop in Europe (just London or are other places eligible?) en route to South Africa. Are you contemplating other flights/stops as well, or is this just a US - SA round trip with one or more stops en route?
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