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Airline reservations: Book online or thru a travel agent?

Airline reservations: Book online or thru a travel agent?

Old Jul 27th, 2005, 09:01 PM
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Airline reservations: Book online or thru a travel agent?

Most of the trips I've taken have been road trips or arranged through my husband's work. I know little or nothing about working with a travel agent. I usually do all trip planning myself.
I need to purchase airline tickets for next month and am wondering if I would be better off using a travel agent? Is there any big advantage? Will I be likely to get a better price? This is not a vacation to an exotic destination. I'm just traveling east to visit family.
Thanks!
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Old Jul 27th, 2005, 09:46 PM
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Hi melh, I haven't used a TA in ages. Have no idea where you live and where you are flying to but most people book there own tickets. TA charge to do this and unless it is some complicated flight, and it does not appear to be, you can do this on your own.

May I suggest if you have questions that you repost showing in your title something along the lines of "Need to fly from X to X and need help". I am sure you will receive a lot of good advice. Best wishes.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 12:23 AM
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Dear Melh,
Hi! If you do decide to use a travel agent, either now or in the future, Liberty Travel doesnt charge you for their services-at least around here they dont (PA). If you choose to plan your trip online my personal fav is expedia.com-Ive used them lots of times and never had any problems. Also note that southwest has a sale going on right now (like $49 one way). Finally, Ive never had a travel agent find a lower price than I had already found on my own so dont feel like youd necessarily get a better deal by going through them. Have a fun and safe trip!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 08:13 AM
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Some time ago, before the Age of Internet I called several agencies in San Francisco - small and large, and the airline itself. Ended up buying tickets from the airline directly saving abot $40 per person.

Since then, the airlines stopped paying travel agents comissions.

So it's all about time vs money - do you have time to do a search, or you are ready to pay somebody to do this search for you.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 09:51 AM
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melh....I travel mostly "on business".I have used a TA for 16 years (I am 26y/o) the same one.Last year I spent $1,500 in ticketing fees ($30) per ticket or change).He saved me over $4,800.00 in hotel costs.Example, rack rate at the hotel $375, vs his rate $322.So I netted $3,300.00 in travel savings.Plus, I tie right into his computer if I want to book something at 2am and he can see it right away.It's win-win for me.
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Old Jul 31st, 2005, 10:24 AM
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You don't have to book with an agent just because you checked with him/her. Occasssionally. you can stumble upon a really good deal with them, so I'd check.

Then, I'd check on the internet and phone!

I like having control of my planning. Takes alittle more time, but I'm usually better satisfied!

Keep in mind comparisons of the entire flight, time between connects etc. are important!

Recently, we booked directly, while our friends took the same flight through Travelocity (a good site). We had to wait months to get seat assignments,;ended up having to juggle alittle to get 'together seats', but it worked out...

THEY on the other hand, knew there seats upon purchase, but ended leaving on the 6PM flight (us on the 9PM) and we caught up with them in Houston (they had a 3 hr. layover while we hiked another waterfall before departure!).

Overall, I think we were better satisfied with our arrangments than they were!

Belle.
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Old Jul 31st, 2005, 12:08 PM
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I recently used a TA for the first time in decades, due to some complicated tickets that involved 3 people traveling together on some flights, but with completely different iteneraries otherwise. It also involved several different international flights.

It would have been very difficult to do on the internet, as you can't book tickets at one time unless the whole journey is the same. I didn't want to risk buying a (non-refundable ) seat on a flight, then finding there were no more seats on that flight when I tried to book the second passenger.

The TA was able to get good fares and tie all of our trips together, but no better prices than I had found on my own. I also realized afterwards that if I had booked I would have paid more attention to layover times and odd flight times.

Another problem I found (beside the $25 or $50 per ticket charge) was that once we were ticketed, the airlines will not allow me to make any changes to my tickets- I have to go back and have her do it. One of the airlines even made me use her to change the meal request!

I find this a real pain now, and I have email and toll free numbers here. I may be really upset if I need to make any changes when I'm in India without my computer.

I will probably not use a TA again unless I am booking some sort of package or advertised deal. I find using sites like Expedia and Travelocity to research my options, then booking on the airline's web sites (or direct by phone if needed) get me the best and cheapest tickets.
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Old Jul 31st, 2005, 12:28 PM
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It is so easy to book a flight on the internet. I can't remember the last time I used an agent to book my air travel. For a simple trip home to visit family, I would book it myself.

I use Sidestep to compare airfares--there are several other fare comparison sites. When I find an airfare that I want to book, I click on the fare and Sidestep redirects me to the airline's website or Orbitz.

I also use farewatchers on Travelocity. On Travelocity's site and several of the airline's websites, you can list cities you wish to travel to. When the airfare drops $25, they will send you an e mail.
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Old Jul 31st, 2005, 02:30 PM
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Melh:

For several years I have booked our air travel directly with the airlines via the internet. This has worked well for us, and it is easy to do.

Recently I spoke with an old friend who is a travel agent. She said that today her entire business is group business. She does have an occasional individual request which she is happy to handle but she normally refers this type of business to Expedia. (I also use Expedia for most of my hotel bookings.)
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