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Is it safer to book plane tickets through an agent?

Is it safer to book plane tickets through an agent?

Jan 9th, 2008, 12:26 PM
  #1  
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Is it safer to book plane tickets through an agent?

Hi,

We are considering purchasing our open-jaw tickets to Paris out of Venice online. We have been using Kayak to scan various choices and have found a possibility through cheaptickets and orbitz. We have also learned about some other flight sites on this wonderful website.

Still paying so much for something online gives me the heebe-jeebies....are consumers quite protected? Do flights through sites such as these often change or get cancelled? Is it safer to book with an agent of some sort so there is more insurance and more help if flights change?

We are flying from western canada if anyone knows other good sites for this region. How far in advance should be buy tickets for May? We cannot be flexible in our dates unfortunatley - we have booked specific dates off of work already.

How much should we expect to pay for Edmonton to Paris, Venice to Edmonton? $1000-$1500 ish?

Any advice would be appreciated! We love planning our trip but this part makes us (me really) nervous worry-worts.

Cheers,

MollyB
MollyBrown is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 12:38 PM
  #2  
 
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I've always bought flights through the airline's web site. I find Orbitz, etc. to be helpful for doing my research, but I always seem to find the same or better prices on the airline web sites as compared with consolidators. I also like buying directly through the airline because then there isn't any 3rd party to deal with should a flight be cancelled, missed, etc. Flights aren't any more likely to be cancelled or changed when you buy them through Orbitz than if you buy them through a travel agent or directly from the airline.
J_Correa is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 12:42 PM
  #3  
 
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I agree with the above. We always use orbitz or travelocity to research flight prices and then buy them directly through the airline website instead. Usually the prices are comparable and I find the customer service to be better in the event that something happens (flight changes, cancellations, etc.).

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 12:44 PM
  #4  
 
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You can't actually book tickets at kayak.com, as you know.

They will lead you to other portals. Sometimes the portals are the airlines themselves: aa.com, ba.com, nwa.com, etc.

Sometimes they are other brokers: orbitz.com, cheaptickets.com

I'm pretty sure all of the above off trip insurance at an additional cost. And are all pretty good. (I know the least about cheaptickets, but I've booked and used a ticket through them with no problem)

And sometimes they offer tickets through a consolidator like airfare.com. I've heard some complaints about airfare.com. If kayak leads you here, do more web research on this company before you book.

Going through a normal travel agent is helpful if something goes wrong. It's nice to have someone to rely on and take the stress off. I don't know if they can do much more for you than the airline can do, though. If you don't go through an agent, then take along the airline's phone number for piece of mind. That way, in the slight chance your flight gets cancelled, you can call the airline to maybe rebook you while you're standing in line.

The vast majority of tickets go through without any problems. If your schedule changes (and usually if it does, it's only by 20 minutes or so), the airline should contact you. But do doublecheck your ticket on the airline's website before you go. (Wherever you go will give you an airline locator number you can plug in.)

As far as how much the fare should be, go to farecast.com. They should be able to recommend whether you should buy or wait. But in general, buy more than 3 weeks from your trip. I think the 90 day-1 month window from the trip is usually good.

The vast majority of flights go off without a hitch. We're close enough to May that I doubt the schedule is going to change much. Relax! You're going to Europe!
Myownheroine is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 12:59 PM
  #5  
 
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Myownheroine, you must have been luckier than I have because my flights over the years have changed numerous times, sometimes significantly. I remember a few years ago we had flights booked to Croatia via London, where we were to switch airports (Heathrow to Gatwick). Our flights changed a month before our trip, forcing us to fly out the day before planned and adding an unplanned day/night in London. Flights don't always change, but it does happen. In my situation, I was happy that I booked directly through American Airlines because the agent was so helpful.

I don't usually use travel agents so I can't comment on that.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 12:59 PM
  #6  
 
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Are you thinking about disasters like the bankruptcy of Canada3000 some years ago? Your credit card should provide protection against the bankruptcy of an online travel agent, but agencies like Orbitz are not going to go bankrupt in such a way as to leave customers stranded. The flights that are booked through such agents are not any more likely to be cancelled or changed than any other flights, as it is the airline that makes these changes. But airlines do make schedule changes, so your planning has to take that possibility into account, particularly if you are booking two separate tickets.

If you are still concerned, a good Canadian travel agency that has both an online and real-life presence is Travel Cuts.

The price of your itinerary is really going to depend on the season, day of the week, etc. I have a feeling this itinerary would be quite expensive out of Edmonton, so you might want to consider using a combination of providers like Zoom, Canadian Affair, Air Transat, and European budget airlines.
WillTravel is online now  
Jan 9th, 2008, 01:55 PM
  #7  
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Thanks everyone - you've all offered some excellent information.

Schedule changes and sudden cancellations like tcreaths worry us because we have so little precious time off work (like most people) and this trip is really important to us - yikes! So that is where my worry-wort gene kicks in.

I did call Travel Cuts...they quoted $1440 with a $68 service fee. That seems a bit high - I keep hearing about $800 dollar flights etc! so it bears more looking around. I think I will scope out the airlines sites directly and maybe check around other agents for comparison.

Thank for the info!

Molly
MollyBrown is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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It's quite possible you could get an $800 flight to Europe, either roundtrip or open-jaw, just not into Paris and out of Venice.

In your case, being in Edmonton, it's even harder, because the airlines know you can't easily access US airports (unlike me in Vancouver). If you go from Calgary, you have somewhat more choice. The easiest would probably be to take a Calgary-Paris flight on Zoom (nonstop), and then take an EasyJet flight to/from Venice.
WillTravel is online now  
Jan 9th, 2008, 02:14 PM
  #9  
ira
 
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Hi M,

Buying your tickets through www.kayak.com is just as safe as through a TA, and cheaper.

>Do flights through sites such as these often change or get cancelled?

It is the airline that changes or cancels flights. It doesn't matter how you bought your tickets.

After you get your confirmation, call the airline to make sure that they have you in their computer and get your seat assignments.

They will give you a confirmation number.

After that, check the airline's website to make sure that everything stays as you planned it.

If there are changes, call the airline.

Enjoy your trip.


ira is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 04:02 PM
  #10  
 
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But Ira, I am sure you do not buy your tickets through kayak, they give you the information and than you go to the website you are interested in. Correct me if I am wrong.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 04:35 PM
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LoveItaly - you are correct. Kayak is very clear that Kayak is not selling you the ticket, but Orbitz, or Expedia, or whatever other web site is doing so.
WillTravel is online now  
Jan 9th, 2008, 04:39 PM
  #12  
 
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I do exactly what others have mentioned - research flights on various sites, but always book through the airline, assuming the fare is the same. Another advantage of booking on the airline website is that many of the airlines give a mileage bonus.

Jane
janewb is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 07:54 PM
  #13  
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Hmmmm. I don't get it. I found a flight on Kayak for $1277 the entire trip open jaw round trip. I went to Northwest to see if I could book their portion of the trip (Edmonton to Minneapolis - Minneapolis to Paris) I found the flight but the price is $3,140.00 one-way?

What am I doing wrong? I did the same thing for an Air Canada flight I found on Kayak same result.

?

Molly
MollyBrown is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 08:03 PM
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If you are looking at a one-way fare, you are not going to get the same price.

You have to check the open-jaw (or multi-city) fares, which is a totally different thing. Each leg isn't priced separately, it's priced like a round trip.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 08:12 PM
  #15  
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Thanks cheryl - sorry that was probably a stupid question. That helped its only a few dollars more...on the Kayak flight the journey involved more than one airline, which I thought meant you'd have to book one leg at a time...!

Cheers,

Molly
MollyBrown is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 08:18 PM
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You didn't give specific dates, but $1277 is the lowest I found for your itinerary also, just putting in random dates in May.

It's a complicated itinerary, though, with multiple stops, etc. I'd try to book it through a travel agent, using the specific flight numbers and codes.

If you can find a comparable fare that can be booked directly online through Orbitz, Expedia or cheaptickets, then go for it. I would not worry at all about booking through one of the established online travel agencies, they are reliable and you may get even *more* protection in the event something goes wrong, because they can help you as an intermediary with the airlines. Just don't go with some fly-by-night place that nobody has ever heard of.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 08:32 PM
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FYI: Expedia is showing a fare of $1264, including a $5 service fee (more than fair, imho). It is completely through Northwest (with one leg operated by KLM but codeshared with NW).

I would not hestitate to book a flight with Expedia and have done so several times before when I couldn't get the same fare through the airline directly. It's one of the most established and reputable online travel agencies around. But theoretically NW should be offering the same fare through its own website since the entire itinerary is through NW.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 01:24 AM
  #18  
 
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To each their own but I have had occasional problems with Expedia in terms of reaching them by phone.

I've also had occasion to use a TA for tickets when the TA was able to get me a 50% discount on flight prices which were quoted directly on an airline site.
Dukey is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 04:38 AM
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<<< FYI: Expedia is showing a fare of $1264, including a $5 service fee (more than fair, imho). It is completely through Northwest (with one leg operated by KLM but codeshared with NW). >>>

So why not book direct with either NWA or KLM?
alanRow is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 06:12 AM
  #20  
ira
 
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Hi love,

>...I am sure you do not buy your tickets through kayak,....

I said "through" not "from".

You are correct. Kayak doesn't sell tickets. It is a search engine.

Hi M,

also try www.1800flyeurope.com.

ira is offline  

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