No airline booking fees.
Travelocity announced today that it is joining Expedia in eliminating airline booking fees, at least until May 31, and likely forever. The reason is that these online travel agencies are in fierce competition with both the airlines and with sites like Kayak, that direct you to the airline sites themselves for booking.
Travelocity is also announcing a price guarantee program, called “PriceGuardian,” in competition with Orbitz’ “Price Assurance.” I first wrote about Expedia eliminating booking fees last week and about Orbitz “Price Assurance” way back on June 17. I have not been a fan of Price Assurance, and am still waiting to hear from a reader who has been able to take advantage of it. Perhaps the same will be true of Travelocity’s guarantee. It has a lot of sticky rules, is valid only for those in the U.S., and applies to air plus hotel package bookings only.
Where should you actually book?
You now have more places than ever to buy the same airline tickets at the same price.
I have been a fan of Travelocity and their flexible date search. It is one of the places I go to daily when looking at airfares, availability and rules. Yet it is not someplace that I actually buy.
My reasoning is simple. Unless there is an overwhelming reason to do otherwise (like a great package promotion), I always prefer to buy travel services directly from the provider. In some cases, there are obvious advantages. Alaska Airlines for example, lets you hold tickets for 24 hours with no obligation and without being a premium customer. If you book those same tickets elsewhere, you will not have that opportunity. In other cases, if there is a problem with the booking, the airline can correct or even cancel the booking, which at least in my experience, online travel agencies usually will not.
What to expect going forward.
We will be definitely be seeing a lot more package deals from Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity. In order to make up for lost airline booking fees, they will need to sell deals that include air packaged with hotel, car rentals and/or activities. To change the minds of naysayers like me, these packages will have to be significantly better than what can be purchased separately. Hopefully this will provide even better opportunities for those of you planning a visit to Hawaii.
Tell me your experiences.
I’d appreciate hearing where you book your travel services, why, and what your experiences have been.