Expedia. Skyscanner. Booking.com. Trip.com. Train. These days there are countless third-party platforms for booking flights, hotels, rental cars and other aspects of the travel experience.
While these websites can make the planning process feel more intuitive and convenient, there are some potential drawbacks that are important to understand before making any reservations.
Below, travel experts share common mistakes people make when booking travel through a third-party service – and their advice for avoiding these errors during your travels.
assuming they have the lowest price
Travel booking websites can be great for comparing prices across different providers and potentially finding special deals. But you’re often going to see similar costs across platforms—including through a travel vendor’s direct website.
“You shouldn’t assume that online travel agencies have the lowest prices,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer. “While coupons and other promotions can make it appear that you are saving a lot of money, you should always check directly with the airline or hotel.”
When booking a flight, you should check prices on airline websites, as well as results from search engines such as Google Flights. Compare rates on hotel websites and third-party booking systems as you search for accommodations.
“In many cases, hotels will guarantee the cheapest rate when booking directly with them. In some situations, third-party booking sites will hide resort fees until the last minute or put them in an easily waived location. ,
Losing 24-hour cancellation options
“You shouldn’t book airfare with an online travel agency if there’s any chance you can take advantage of the federal 24-hour cancellation rule,” Dengler said.
The US Department of Transportation has mandated that air carriers allow customers who purchased tickets at least seven days prior to the flight’s scheduled departure and within 24 hours of booking to cancel their reservation and get a full refund without penalty. was allowed to receive.
“Unfortunately, the flight must be booked directly with the airline,” Dengler said. This means that third-party booking sites do not have to respect the rule, which means you may be out of luck if you want to cancel within 24 hours. If there is any chance you will have to cancel your flight Check with third-party booking sites before booking to see if they respect the 24-hour cancellation rule.
not reading the fine print
“Always read the fine print so you know their return or refund policy,” said Ciara Johnson, a travel blogger at Hey Ciara. “For added protection, book with a travel credit card that has insurance in case something goes wrong. If you’re not booking for a deal, it’s always best to book directly on the company’s website. It might be cheaper to book directly anyway!”
Queer travel expert and host of “The Gecation Travel Show” Ravi Roth echoed this advice. He emphasized being aware of any additional fees or hassle policies regarding cancellations, itinerary changes, and refunds, so you should be sure to read and save your confirmation email with the details.
“I recommend Orbitz for hotels and using trusted sites like Airbnb to book experiences. For flights, I would try Skyscanner, but when booking, be sure to stick to the major airlines,” Roth said. “Sometimes people can get a super cheap flight, but in the fine print, there are fees for overhead and checked baggage. I can’t stress enough to read the fine print.”
miss out on loyalty points
If hotel or airline loyalty points and status are important to you, then using a third-party booking site might not be the best move.
“Many online travel agencies will let you enter your frequent flyer number or hotel rewards number, but that doesn’t mean you’ll earn status credits and points,” explained Dengler. “Some airlines and hotels will allow you to earn status when booking with online travel agencies, but you should make sure first.”
Attempt to modify booking through travel provider
“Third-party booking sites such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity are also known as online travel agencies, and they are essentially the middleman between you and the airline or hotel,” Dengler explained. “In other words, your reservation is with them, not the airline or hotel. That means you contact them for customer service instead of the airline or hotel.”
So if accessing direct customer service with a travel provider is a big deal for you, avoid these third-party platforms when making your reservation and instead use them as a search engine for comparison.
“While larger online travel agencies have better customer service than smaller ones, it’s still better to talk directly to the source,” Dengler said. “It is important for both reservation modifications and cancellations. If there is a chance of bad weather during your trip, I recommend booking directly as there is a real chance that you will need to modify or cancel your itinerary.”
Because canceling or making itinerary changes through third-party platforms can be a big hassle, make sure you pay close attention when making your reservation.
“Travellers should be sure to double-check all of their information, such as travel dates, names and contact information, when booking through third parties,” said Casey Brogan, a consumer travel specialist at Tripadvisor.
Choosing a Travel Provider That Doesn’t Allow Third Party Sales
“Keep in mind that many budget carriers, especially Ryanair in Europe, don’t technically allow third-party sales of their tickets,” said Marek Bronn, a travel blogger at Indie Traveller. “If you book their flights through a third party anyway, this is done in a work-around way that is not supported by Ryanair.”
As a result, making cancellations or changes through a third-party site may be more expensive or challenging than if you had booked directly through the airline. Make sure you actually get official confirmation with your chosen air carrier or other travel provider when you book through an external system.
not reading review
Not all third-party booking sites and travel agents are created equal. Therefore, it is important to read the reviews of these services before making your reservation through these services.
“Review these third-party sites, such as those on Trustpilot, before booking, as some of them are to be avoided,” Brawn said. He recommends paying extra attention to customer service mentions, as you may need it to handle changes or cancellations down the road.
“If working with a travel agent, make sure they have the right qualifications and double-check your reservations with airlines and hotels,” echoed Jessica Van Dopp DeJesus, A travel media expert and blogger at The Dining Traveler. “Also, look up travel insurance and check with your credit card to see if they offer any travel insurance services.”