Three Myths About Booking Your Own Travel

Last week I posted “Myths About Travel Agents” and I thought I should show the flip side. After all, I’ve done it both ways.

This is “Three Myths About Booking Travel From the Source.” That is, booking directly with the airline or hotel. The author observes, “Whether cutting out the middleman is consumer-friendly is a matter of debate,” which I thought was interesting. But one reason I use Southwest Airlines so often (aside from the fact Jesse lives in Phoenix) is their liberal policy on changing flights. (No fee at all if you do it yourself online. In fact, changing to a cheaper flight actually results in—wait for it—a credit.) Which means Southwest is definitely my airline of choice.

I don’t necessarily make a habit of changing flights but a major life-situation change some years ago meant a ticket to Germany purchased for Jesse couldn’t be used. We knew about it several months in advance; it shouldn’t have been a problem. But it took me weeks of letter-writing, e-mailing, and phoning with American Airlines to get any sort of satisfaction. Their original position was the ticket was, simply, forfeit. They wouldn’t issue a credit (I wasn’t asking for the money back; I knew someone in this family would fly again, and soon). To this day I’m convinced my breaking down in tears on the phone is the only thing that got me a credit—minus, of course, the $150 fee for change.

But we were talking about the three myths about booking direct. Here they are:

1. You can’t save money.

2. Your room or plane seat will be the same whether or not you book direct.

3. It’s easier to change plans with a travel agency.

The author says:

In the last week alone I got a steal on a luxury hotel in Miami by using a discount code offered by the hotel that popped up in a Google search. And I reserved a flight to San Francisco from New York for under $150 during a one-day sale that JetBlue announced on Twitter. The fares, the airline noted, were “not available on Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or Priceline.”

I’ve found this to be true, certainly, with Southwest (but then they aren’t on Travelocity), and with flights to Europe too. I can almost always gt a cheaper flight across the pond directly from the airline. So read the article. Let me know what you think!

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