Should I book my flight on a site like Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheapoair, Hotwire, Etc.?

Is it often thought that booking with Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheapoair or any other 3rd party site (travel metasearch engine) is the only way to get the best flight deal. Well this is not 100% true and here is why.


First, what is a “travel metasearch engine”? Well simply put, it the same thing searching something in google but for travel. But unlike google, companies like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Cheapoair have direct access to airlines databases. So when you search a flight from point A to point B, the travel metasearch engine looks through all accessible databases and returns specific results based on your search criteria.

So… why are these companies allowed direct access to airlines flight information? Because they are acting as a “reseller” for airlines and when a flight is purchased, the booking company get a commission from the sale. Now, these is nothing wrong with this and is a very common practice… but who’s to say that the  available flights and the prices and are listed are not sued to benefit the airline? Say Delta has a flight they need to fill.. maybe that flight will generate first because a fully booked flight is a money making flight. Now, I don’t know this statement to be a 100% fact but more an observation as airlines are a business and a business exists to make money. So something must be happening behind the scenes to make things run smoothly and with a profit.

Let me continue to pick on Orbits (which keep in mind is owned by Expedia)… how can they exist and continue to turn a profit? Lot of traffic! This is due to company size, a long standing company history, catchy marketing jingles and general marketing efforts. They also provide another value to users… the ability to search for a flights within any departure and/or arrival time, price, destination, and airline. Especially as Americans, I feel that we enjoy having someone else do the leg work for us on a task that we perceive as “difficult. The ability for a family of 4 to quickly book the cheapest flight to Florida really has it perks. But here is the kicker… these booking agencies are companies (thus their role is to make money and are public companies with SHAREHOLDERS!) How can you avoid booking with these companies? Its simple… use them as a tool.

Use their years of expertise and business connections to your advantage and let them  find flights for you… but do your research.

  1. Search Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Cheaoair or who ever you prefer
  2. Search another
  3. Search ANOTHER… take notes
  4. Once you have found the cheapest flight, go directly to the airlines website and search the flight. Is it the same price?…
  5. If yes, I would book directly with the airline through their website. See my blog article on why booking with the airline directly adds even more value
  6. If no, then book with the company that offered the cheapest flight… but keep in mind their rules and policies. It can sometimes be difficult to change or get refunds on flights

Here is one last and very IMPORTANT point to remember… Are you flying within the US? Southwest, Frontier, and many other budget airline flights are not offered through Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Cheaoair or who ever you prefer. This is because the airline have less margin for profits (they are a budget airline for a reason) and when a customer purchased through an agency, they typically provide them a commission on the sale.

Here are some additional steps that you can take to find cheap airline tickets through budget airlines;

  1. Go to your destinations airport website (so if you are flying to Boston, go to http://www.massport.com/logan-airport/)
  2. See which airlines fly in and out of their airport
  3. Check to see if that airlines fly’s out of your departure city
  4. Go to those airlines website directly and search for flights. But keep in mind that budget airlines often fly less daily flights, and often to less major airports. Southwest is often a great alternative to Delta, American, United and Jetblue

Read my blog entry on budget airlines and how to make these work for your travel needs.

I hope this helps! Stay tunes for more travel savings tips.

-Myles

 

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