Streams

Are Tickets Always Cheaper on Orbitz?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Over a decade ago, American Airlines was a co-creator of Orbitz. This week, the airline has pulled its flights from the Online Travel Agent (OTA) during a contract dispute. Charisse Jones, who covers the travel industry for USA Today, talks about why airlines are trying to wrestle power back from OTAs, and what it all means for consumers.

Five Things We Learned About Buying Airline Tickets: 

1. This dispute is about the fees the airline pays Orbitz for every flight booked. American Airlines says Orbitz is charging too much. 

2. Sometimes these aggregator sites are more expensive than buying directly from an airline. Some OTAs do charge an extra fee – so check and see that buying from an airline won’t actually be cheaper. You will save money using OTAs if you buy package deals -- for rental cars, hotel rooms and flights.  

3. Online Travel Agents aren’t actual agents. They don’t offer the same help that human agents do when you need to make a change to your flights, or to waive fees. And when there are problems, airlines often reward customers who deal with them directly instead of working through a third-party.

4. One caller, Tanya in Hazlet, suggested using Matrix when looking for complicated trip itineraries even though you can't buy tickets on the site. Another listener, Roland, added that Matrix is powered by Google. 

5. Delta doesn’t use some of the smaller OTAs, so if you’re looking for flights from that airline you may want to use a larger site. Southwest Airlines doesn’t list on any OTAs. 

Guests:

Charisse Jones

Comments [4]

chris from gnpt, bklyn

As discussed, matrix (by ITA software, now owned by google) is a great/powerful go to for searches on complex itineraries, even though they don't sell tickets.

I also had good experiences with Skyscanner (don't think they sell tickets, either) this summer to find more "random" (budget; e.g. easyjet, wizzair, gol) airlines flying to smaller cities in Brazil and Europe, which may not show up on matrix, kayak and other OTAs.

Aug. 28 2014 12:02 PM
Linda Griggs from LES

Expedia is a nightmare.

I love Spirti Airlines. They don't fly a lot of places and the planes are held together with duct tape and bailing wire but they are the absolute cheapest. Also the staff is nice and they didn't make me check my bag with a musical instrument.

Aug. 28 2014 11:53 AM
tcg from westchester

I found when hotel room booking w/ Orbitz that once a reservation is made all conservation with the booked hotel had to first go through Orbitz and that was next to impossible. I now deal directly with hotels and airlines and leave the web sites behind.

Aug. 28 2014 11:52 AM
Tom Crisp from UWS

It is not only price comparison that a site like Kayak facilitates - it's schedule. I can see lots of flights at the same price, or nearly so, but also see that there are better times from one airline to another. That's a nice time saver.

Aug. 28 2014 11:51 AM

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