Travel Agents

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Jun 7th, 2012, 09:10 AM
  #1
cbr
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Travel Agents

Are travel agents relevant for internation flights? We have usually booked our own flights via websites and have had no issues. Friends suggested we use an agent to get better deals, so i called two that were recommended and received quotes that were no better than the website promoted. So I was wondering about the thoughts of my fellow travellers. Appreciate the input-
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Jun 7th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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If you are booking flight only, you won't get any better deals. What you WILL get (as I found out on our trip to New Zealand) is the ability to hold a fare for a couple of days while you make up your mind.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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Some agencies which specialize or concentrate in certain countries and regions often have quite attractive fares although sometime they require other purchases also be made through them (and they can have just as low rates there, too).

For example there are many agencies in Los Angeles which concentrate on travel to Asia and thus have excellent fares and offers, many of which are not available even from the supplier directly.

Some agents can also offer higher levels of service than direct bookings such as obtaining various levels of priority during irops, lounge access, seating access, and so on.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 12:08 PM
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Travel agents for airline travel? Almost as obsolete as film for camera or travelers cheques for cash......

Actually sometimes you will find on-line travel agencies that can offer discount fares on certain carriers but it's far easier these days to sit at home on your computer and check out the various possibilities than it is to stop by the neighborhood travel agency; especiallyh since commissions from airlines have been reduced to 0 and they now charge for their services in most instances!
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Jun 7th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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I'll disagree slightly, but I'll also admit that I operate a small travel agency.

Many travel agents have access to airline consolidators. These consolidators offer reduced prices on certain international (and, occasionally, domestic) flights. Sometimes the savings are small, sometimes significant. The availability is extremely variable.

Also, it is not quite true that all airline commissions have been eliminated, as several international airlines do offer commissions.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:11 PM
  #6
cbr
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Thank you for your thoughts. I will continue to check around and perhaps call the agents back to see what they offer.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 04:58 PM
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I've never used a travel agent.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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Travel agent we know in Houston is still able to get us slightly discounted (~5%) UA fare from there to Hong Kong. Once ticketed, it is same as regular ticket booked through UA, with all the mileage/EQM qualification, elite seats & bonuses, etc.
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Jun 14th, 2012, 07:08 AM
  #9
cbr
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Thank you we finally decided to book ourselves since there was no savings. Most agents of course want to book full packages.
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Jun 14th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Small TAs in the US (as opposed to mega-TAs like Expedia) generally receive commissions only on premium cabin bookings, often just those made in "full fare" categories, and not from all airlines. There are consolidator agencies, or those that have access to consolidator or charter fares, that can sometimes offer good prices. These are especially common in big cities with large Asian populations; discount travel to Asia is a cutthroat business.

In other countries it's a different story, but, again, somewhat dependent on which country, which airline, and which class of service.

Many TAs are moving toward a "fee for service" business model for tasks which don't offer commissions. IMO that approach is more fair, since they won't be "pushing" vendors that offer the highest payback, rather than the best value to the consumer. For the most part cruises are the last stronghold for TA-commissionable travel.
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Jun 15th, 2012, 06:26 AM
  #11
 
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I look around for prices and when I have all the details I book through a travel agent. I figure that if something goes wrong there is a 'fall guy' and as my tickets are not cheap I figure it is better. Darn that Australia is so far from everything!
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Jun 16th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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I look around for prices and when I have all the details I book throught the airlines' website. I figure if something goes wrong the ariline won't tell me "you booked with an agent (e.g. expedia) so you will have to contact them". The agent could be on a different continent than my location, but the airlines has staff in my location - after all they flew me there - at least at the airport (and probably a local phone number).

In Bangkok, at BKK, it was Lufthansa customer service people who accomplished whatever it was that I needed on a United issued ticket flying on Thai. It was an award ticket so no travel agent would ever have been involved, but still: it was excellent in-person service 8800 miles from home.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 06:11 AM
  #13
cbr
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Good to hear about Lufthansa because that is what we are flying this winter for the first time. I also heard Swiss was excellent. I agree a fee for service model might be a great approach because often times depending upon the complexity of the trip it might be good to get an expert opinion.
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Jun 20th, 2012, 11:10 PM
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However you do it, read the "fine print". For example, the best price may also mean NO, NONE, ZERO changes. While for another $50(?) you may have some flexibility?

regards - tom
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Jun 25th, 2012, 07:22 AM
  #15
cbr
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True, but usually especially from what I have seen, on international travel it is much more plus service fees.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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In 2003 I bought two tickets for international travel on Delta through an agent, on a friend's recommendation, for approximately $1100 each. Several weeks later, the Delta fare was $750, and I called to ask about getting a reduction in ticket price. Nope, the tickets were through a consolidator, so Delta had nothing to do with it. I could have saved myself probably at least $200 per ticket, even with a change fee. I haven't used an agent since then; I buy directly from the airline. I do use Kayak to check fares weekly to see the trends.
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