It’s an ongoing and ever-growing question. Is it better to reserve flights directly with the airline or book it through a travel search site? Well, sometimes it IS good to use the search site and sometimes it IS better to contact the airline. Here’s a look at the reasons you might want to reserve with one over the other.
When to reserve using a flight search site
Whether you end up reserving directly with a search site or not, it’s always best to begin your research by checking search sites like Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak, Momondo because:
- They are an excellent starting point, offering an overview of the flights available on a variety of carriers.
- They also identify which airlines or which combination of unrelated airlines fly to which destinations.
- The search sites will show a variety of price options. They give an idea of price points – a starting point that you can use to begin price comparisons.
- Sometimes these third-party sites offer better travel rewards or loyalty points and if so, it may be the way to go.
- There are also times when you can score a better price using the third-party search site.
When to reserve directly with the airline
Once you know your preferred route and carrier options, always check the airline’s site directly. This is important for finding the best pricing and options because:
- It’s often easier to reschedule flights or make changes if you reserve directly with the carrier. The carrier is also more likely to consider changes when you need to fly due to an emergency.
- If you are a loyal Southwest Air traveler, you will need to search Southwest directly. Southwest and many other discount airlines do not permit robots to search their sites nor do they pay referral fees so you won’t see them listed on amalgamated search sites or aggregators.
- If the airline pays a commission to travel search sites, then the search site’s price will likely be higher than if you book directly with the airline. As well, be cautious of the price listed up front on the third-party site. Sometimes that upfront price looks best, but once you’re at the reservation screen, you might see additional, unexpected fees. For instance, fees for seat selection and luggage, etc.
- If you are a tiered loyalty member, you can score upgrades and preferential treatment when booking directly.
- If you’re using loyalty points to book the flight, you need to either reserve directly with the airline or with the points provider (for instance a credit card travel service). It’s often easier to make flight changes when booking through a loyalty provider.
- When using a search site to book travel, you may not be eligible to receive the loyalty points that you would if booking directly with the airline. This depends though on the search site or the flight provider – just be aware and do your homework if points are important to you.
- When booking directly, you can always choose between various classes. Each class comes with its own advantages. Service levels can include discount economy, economy, premium economy, business and first. Search sites may or may not offer this option.
- You may not be able to book a seat or prepay for checked luggage when you book with an aggregator
No matter which search method you use…
Whether using a search site like Expedia or Kayak or Orbitz OR reserving directly with the airline, there’s one app that helps speed up your search – Opptee™ Travel Search.
Opptee provides access to dozens of travel searches – search providers, aggregators and direct suppliers for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages – all listed alphabetically and impartially.
With Opptee, just enter your travel details once and then choose from a selection of online travel search providers. Opptee auto-populates your travel details into each search (direct or third-party) to ensure your search is fast and complete.
Using Opptee Travel Search, you can browse more sites faster and more comprehensively. It’s only then that you can see complete travel options. It’s only then that you can reserve with confidence!