For the past ??? years I have been booking our flights on-line.
Today, my computer glitched on one airline’s web site and I was unable to make further progress with the booking.
I plan to pop into a travel agent tomorrow but realise it must be all of 10 years or more since I actually made a flight booking through a travel agent - sad, isn’t it !
Do travel agents still do flight bookings and if so, do they charge a premium for doing so ?
I’m pretty sure they still do flight bookings, as to charging a premium I’m not sure. Why not try the Skyscanner site, it pulls together all flight operators for dates/destinations, I’ve found them to be the best.
We went on holiday to the USA last year. The KLM flight tickets for the 6 of us were in total about Euro 6000. The online booking did not succeed since our youngest turned 2 during the holiday - so in the USA. For some reason booking online was not possible.
The KLM travel agent was able to do the booking and since the limitation was their system, we did not have to pay the premium. We were also able to fine tune the booking more which reduced the cost of the tickets to about Euro 5300.
Ergo, for simple bookings a flight agent might be more expensive but for special bookings it might be the better option since they can finetune it better.
Last year, my sister in law went to a travel agent to arrange a trip from Manchester to Rome. She was sold a flight with a change at heathrow. She was surprised, and a bit annoyed when I told her flights are available direct from Manchester and Liverpool.
She was even more annoyed when the flight to heathrow lost and engine, she got to her hotel in Rome at 2am and the Rome to heathrow flight was delayed, which resulted with a overnight stay in a heathrow hotel.
The last time I went to a travel agents all they did was google things on the computer. I can do that. They had zero specialist knowledge.
At the moment, i’m seeking flights from London to Kelowna. Firstly in May for Mrs D then in August for myself. We’ve done this countless times before, and over the past 10 years or more on-line with BA, Air Canada, Air Transat, Canadian Affair and more recently, Westjet.
I’ve done the searching for suitable times/prices but part way through the booking process find a “Script” running in the background which I am unable to de-bug or ignore. I can use another computer, but it’s made me realise just how dependent and hence vulnerable, we could be to future computer failures.
Hence the idea of using a travel agent.
Of course, when I ask an Agent about a specific flight itinerary, I will soon know if they are charging a premium or not. But forearmed … and all that !!
I’ve occasionally used Trailfinders to book flights by phone, and found them to be very knowledgeable and helpful. You often seem to be able to talk to someone with personal knowledge of the destination you’re interested in who can give you useful advice, and prices seem to be the same as an online booking. Not really necessary for an EasyJet flight across Eurpoe, but can be good for long-haul.
I haven’t used a travel agent since the start of www with DIY travel. When working I flew almost every week & frequently had flight plans that were multiple city & likely as not had to be changed during the trip. Now retired, I fly or float at least five trips per year, still not using a travel agent.
However one or two families we know travel a lot & do use agents, and one in particular on a flight to Australia had a flight from hell & the agent worked wonders including a Dubai to Adelaide section in 1st class for free.
They have their uses, but not for me at the moment.
I would also recommend Trailfinders - we’ve used them a few times and found them knowledgable and helpful.
I fly a lot for business and have done so for many years. The online sites are generally pretty good but I now use Dial-A-Flight for 6 main reasons:
1: They use their buying power to get better discounts
2: They know all “the tricks” to get the best deal, such as booking with car rental (even if I don’t need one, the ticket can sometimes be cheaper)
3: They have on occasion been able to sort me out an economy plus or business class ticket for a nominal extra
4: They do all the work so I don’t have to
5: If I need a hotel room, they can sort that out as well at a good price and sometimes have been able to secure a room in a hotel which was sold out on the hotel’s own website
6: When something goes wrong (and it will), they have a 24 hour helpline. I had to use it twice and they were very responsive.
You speak as you find of course but I am happy to recommend them.
All booked - through local travel agent just a two minute walk away and face-to-face.
Saved us about 20-25% ie £400 off c.£1,800 fares.
Thanks for all your responses and guidance. Really appreciated.
If thats 20% cheaper than websites, that is really good.
I had looked at four websites - BA, Air Canada, Westjet and Canadian Affair (Air Transat)
The least expensive, and most suitable was Westjet, even allowing for the “Extras” of Hold luggage, Meals, Seat-selection and Entertainment plus the cost of overnight at Gatwick pre-flight. The cost would have been c. £2,000 for two of us for the August trip. My computer kept encountering a “Script running” bug and I couldn’t complete the bookings.
The Canadian Affair flights were less convenient and also required a separate booking with either Air Canada or Westjet for the Calgary - Kelowna leg (always a risk if one leg is delayed). Total cost was above £2k
BA have an alliance with WestJet for the local flights, but again, their price was the wrong side of £2k and their timings aren’t convenient…
Air Canada’s website quoted £1,976 inclusive of luggage, meals, entertainment and seat-selection. Not quite as convenient as WestJet’s itinerary but OK. Again, I had encountered the “Script-running” alert on my computer.
The local travel agent offered the WestJet flight within £5 of the price on the WestJet site.
They also offered the Air Canada flight, all-inclusive at £1,574, ie a saving of £402 on my direct search on the Airline’s website. We booked it ! NB. we had seen similar flights cheaper on some websites, but I just had a feeling that I would prefer dealing with a real person in a shop two minutes walk, and who have been in business for the 45 years that we have lived here.
We still have to sort out Mrs D’s trip for May - once she has finalised her dates…
Thats a great update Don. The ticket price system is complicated…i hoped the shop on the high street were fighting back👍
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