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Online travel agents like Orbitz have become incredibly popular in recent years, offering travellers a way to compare airfare among multiple carriers.But it’s not necessarily the smartest way to go, says travel specialist Brett Synder. You may end up paying a much higher price for your low-cost ticket.
Snyder offered us a few reasons why you should always book through a carrier:
Fees are hidden. Let’s say you’re about to buy a ticket and want to check the baggage fees for your flight. “If you go on Expedia and click on baggage info, it just opens up a huge, long list of airlines and what their fees are,” says Snyder. “On some sites you don’t even have that option.” Not only is it time-consuming to wade through these lists, there’s the risk of mistaking a fee and not having enough to pay. What’s more, some sites don’t let users tack on fees to their fare.
All airlines look equal (but aren’t). Take Spirit Airlines, a carrier that’s notorious for slapping fliers with fees. On a site like Kayak or Orbitz, Spirit’s fare may seem like a bargain. But travellers may be in for a rude awakening when they go to check their bags at the airport. On metasearch sites, “people don’t really know what’s going to be different about flying Spirit, and that’s frustrating,” Snyder says.
No true price comparison. Consumers have a hard time seeing the “true price” of a fare not only for the reasons listed above, but due to the fact that there’s no true apples to apples comparison between carriers. For example, Spirit may charge $227 for a flight while Jet Blue is charging $280. But that doesn’t account for checked bag fees or anything else.
The better bet
The best way to book a fare online is through the airlines’ site, says Snyder. Though online travel agents are great for seeing an airfare’s price point, a carrier’s site is the better place to view fees and customise fares with meals, seats, checked bags, and so forth. You’ll also save yourself time—no sorting through lists—and might find a deal that’s unique to the site.