A while ago I tested some of the many flight search sites that are on the internet. Some were dire and some useful, but none was great to the extent that I would rely on that one alone. But when it comes to actually booking the flight, I wouldn’t use any of them. I book direct with the airline, and here’s why.
For a start, I’ve never found a flight on a search engine that wasn’t cheaper by booking directly with the airline. Now that may just be because I’ve only sampled a limited range of airlines, mostly of the budget variety. So I’m prepared to believe that sometimes a flight may be cheaper if booked through a third party, but it’s hard to see why it should be when there’s commission to be paid from somewhere.
But the main reason I book directly with the airline is that it’s so much easier if a problem crops up. When someone stole our driving licences we had to re-arrange our whole Australia trip from Bali, which involved 5 flights on 4 separate airlines. None of the tickets were officially ‘flexible’ – they were all the cheapest online fares. But I was able to re-schedule them all, just paying an admin fee that was, at most, £25. And I did most of them online – I did have to phone Virgin, but that was because we’d paid originally using Virgin miles.
If we had booked via 3rd party sites I’m pretty sure we would have lost the lot and had to pay in full for new tickets – and the particular circumstances weren’t covered by our travel insurance.
Booking direct means that I can change my mind about the add-ons too. If I want a meal after all, or suddenly feel like splurging on an extra leg room seat, I can just go into my online booking and pay the extra. Could I do that if I booked via a 3rd party?
I’ve also read numerous stories of how difficult it is to get any satisfactory response from 3rd party sites in case of delays, cancellations or other service problems. They pass you off to the airline, while the airline points out that your transaction was with the 3rd party.
So even if a directly-booked flight was a little more expensive than one via a 3rd party, I would still book direct with the airline. Unless someone can convince me otherwise?