Flight tickets booking services is the most convenient way to get information of the cost of tickets. But if all sites are equally good? You can find a huge number of articles that describe proc and cons of certain services. I want to show the basic classification of such online services and describe the important points are worth paying attention to.
All flight tickets services can be divided into three categories:
- Search engines (also known as aggregators).
- Booking services (agencies).
- Airlines websites.
1. Search Engines
These sites search for tickets and booking online services. As a rule, they can provide the most complete information on the cost and availability.
The main differences between search engines:
- Coverage. It means the number of airlines and agencies that are subject to search. The more – the better. But no one of search engines covers all possible options.
- Information correctness. Is the shown price equal to a final price of online ticket when purchase, any kind of possible hidden fees, price changes due to currency conversion, if the information of seats availability is relevant or not, etc.
- Usability. General usability and unique features like an ability to search for a difficult route, calendar of low prices, airlines special offers etc.
It’s important to understand that search engines do not sell tickets themselves. They provide information on prices and then forward to the chosen service for tickets booking.
Time-proved search engines:
2. Booking Services
Using these type of services you can not only find a ticket, but also buy it. These companies work with the airlines under some terms. Usually they offer prices that are slightly lower than on airlines booking sites.
Please pay attention to the following aspects, before you spend your money to book a ticket online:
- How long the company operates in the market? Any bad reviews in the Internet?
- Return and exchange terms. Whether or not they correspond to the terms of ticket fare? Often people face to problems when they want to return or exchange tickets purchased from an agency.
- Is the final price the same that was shown at the beginning? Any kind of hidden extra fees?
- Is the currency of a final price the same as initially selected? Sometimes currency exchange changes the final price significantly, and you can see it only after you actually spend your money. It’s always better if you can see the final price in the selected currency from the very beginning.
Such sites are useful in some case: if you can’t pay for the tickets directly on the airlines websites, or you get bonuses buying always in the same place, or the price is cheaper. However, you should always keep in mind that airlines websites are always more reliable.
I used the following booking services and happy with them:
3. Airlines Websites
Everything is simple. Direct online booking of the ticket of the particular airline. Prices could be a little bit higher than on booking sites, but not in case of low cost airlines.
I personally prefer to find options using search engines and then buy tickets on airline website or using trusted online booking service. Read “How to buy cheap flight tickets?” for more details.
Life hackTicket price may be lower if you are forwarded to the site from a search engine instead of using a direct link. This is true for the airlines websites as well.
Price Comparison Experiment
Let’s do a little experiment and compare the prices offered by search engines and booking sites with prices available on airline websites.
- Moscow – New York – Moscow
- May 25, 2015 departure date
- May 31, 2015 return date
- Non-stop flight
Any search engine shows three airlines for direct flights Moscow – New York: Aeroflot, Delta and Transaero. We can see that prices differ significantly.
The overall picture:
Best price for Aeroflot ticket offers Aviasales ($ 454 on Aviacassa), the best price for Delta ticket – again Aviasales ($ 441 on KupiBilet.ru), and the cheapest ticket for Transaero shows Momondo ($ 466 on BiletikAero).
Can we trust these booking sites? I usually consider tickets purchased on such sites as non-refundable, because of tons of reviews when people say that these services are unscrupulous and careless in case of refund. Prices on airlines websites are higher, but the terms of the particular fare are guaranteed.