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Monday, July 27th 2015

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YWG." - Chris Myden

2015
24
July
Third Party Airfare Booking Sites: The Power Rankings - who to trust, who to avoid



Third party airfare booking sites, the power rankings


Index of Third Party Booking Sites

Alphabetical index of all the third party booking sites - click on a website name to jump directly to their power ranking, my opinion, and things to watch out for.

Airfare.com · AirTickets · BookAirfare · BravoFly · BudgetAir · BuyMyTrip · CheapOair · CheapTickets · eDreams · Expedia · ExploreTrip · FareDepot · FareGeek · FlightCentre · FlightHub · FlightNetwork · FlyFar · Hop2 · JustFly · MyTrip · NanakFlights · OneTravel · Orbitz · Priceline · RedTag · Travel2be · Travelgenio · Travelocity · TripAir · Tripsta · Vayama · WebJet

jump to #1 in the power rankings

Should I book my airfare with a third party site?

On a daily basis I see people wondering three things when it comes to booking airfares online...

1) should I book directly with the airline, or through a third party booking site?

2) if I do book through a third party booking site, which is the best site to use?

and

3) Is [insert site here] ok to use? Can I trust them?

Booking directly with the airline vs booking through a third party site

All things being equal, I would usually prefer to book directly with the airline rather than through a third party booking site. And whenever possible, I try to steer people towards the airline's own website for booking, assuming the amazing price is available there.

Why?

When you book through a third party site, the airline does not view you as their customer. They believe the third party is responsible for helping you out should you require to make any changes, and should you try to contact the airline for help they will always direct you back to the third party that made your booking.

This can be annoying, as it's usually easier (and cheaper) to deal directly with the airline should something go awry or if changes need to be made.

BUT, all things are not always equal

There are two common situations where booking directly with the airline is either less appealing, or not possible at all.

Situation #1

The airline (and their website) are not showing the flight(s) or itinerary you want, but a third party booking site is showing them. This happens a lot, especially when it involves flights using multiple airlines.

Situation #2

The price of a certain flight is cheaper through a third party booking site than it is directly through the airline (or their website). Yes, it does happen.

With Situation #2, the question becomes: "How much cheaper does it need to be through the third party site to tempt you away from booking directly with the airline?"

If there's a $5 difference, it's probably not worth booking through the third party. But what if it's $50 cheaper through the third party site ? Or $500 ? Everyone has a different threshold.

And if you *are* tempted to book through a third party site, which one should you use? Who can you trust?

jump back up to index of booking sites

Why every booking site has bad reviews

If you try Googling for reviews on third party booking sites, you'll just end up more confused than ever, because *every* third party booking site (and seemingly every airline) has numerous negative reviews, due to the fact that whenever *anything* goes wrong with someone's vacation, the booking site inherently becomes the one people like to blame.

Sometimes this blame is justified, but other times it's due to factors that really aren't in the control of the booking site in any way, but people inevitably need someone to vent their frustrations at (eg. airline unexpectedly re-schedules or cancels their flights, the hotel room wasn't clean, it rained all week, the margaritas weren't strong enough, etc, etc).

I'm also pretty convinced that many people don't realize how much it can cost to make any changes to a booked airfare, *regardless* of whether you booked through the airline directly or through a third party site (who will pass those charges from the airline along to you, and usually tack on a $50 service fee of their own).

This leads to numerous angry reviews from people who think the third party booking site is trying to extort them for 'hundreds of dollars to change my flight' - when in reality, the bulk of that charge is coming from the airline, who would have charged them the same amount, minus the typical $50 service fee.

jump back up to index of booking sites

Why size matters with booking site reviews

The reality is, some of these third party booking sites are absolutely enormous on a world wide scale, in terms of the number of bookings they process each day. Some of them process millions of bookings a year. If even 1/10th of 1% of those bookings result in an unsatisfied customer, that can potentially mean thousands of negative reviews that end up on the Internet.

What this all means is that you probably have over a 99% chance of things turning out absolutely fine when booking with any decent third party site, but you sure wouldn't know it by reading about the 1% of bookings that turn into negative reviews.

People do *not* review third party booking sites on the 99% of occasions when everything goes well.

However, having witnessed thousands of conversations and opinions from Canadians about the various third party booking sites over the years, I do see certain things being mentioned time and time again about certain sites, and the experiences travelers have with using them.

I also have my own opinions about the quality of the various third party sites, based on using them myself, since the dawn of the online travel age, and keeping close tabs on the online travel industry in general over the years.

With all of these opinions taken into account, I've decided to rank the third party sites in order of preference, as well as point out specific things to watch out for when making a booking using certain sites.

jump back up to index of booking sites

The 3 things you should watch out for with third party booking sites

1. Currencies

Make sure you know what currency the site is displaying their prices in. Some are better than others at making it clear. Always assume it's U.S. dollars ($USD) until you see it explicitly mentioned otherwise. Sometimes there is a way to change the site to display in Canadian ($CAD) - but other times there is not.

Every day, I see comments from Canadians that think they've found an amazing discount on an airfare, only to discover that the price they're looking at is actually in U.S. dollars, not in Canadian. This can make over a 30% difference in the price when comparison shopping between sites. Sometimes the prices are even in Euros or Pounds!

I can only imagine how many people book these fares in a currency other than $CAD, not realizing it until they see their credit card statement. By this point, it's too late.

As a Canadian, it's possible to book a flight even if the site is only willing to display prices in $USD. Just keep in mind you'll automatically be charged in $CAD by your credit card company, using today's exchange rate, plus approximately another 3% in currency conversion costs.

On occasion, it can actually even be cheaper to book a flight that is priced in $USD (and then charged to your credit card in $CAD, with a 3% surcharge), versus booking directly in $CAD. This is somewhat rare though.

2. The Third Party 'Service Fee'

This is the fee that the third party booking site will charge you, should you request to make any changes to (or cancel) your flight down the road. This service fee is above and beyond the two other charges that the airline would *also* charge you, had you booked directly through them instead.

In my research for the power rankings, I found that the typical third party service fee averages around $50 CAD.

The typical cost of changes to booked airfare

3. Know what site you're on!

It sounds obvious, but some of the common third party booking sites have very similar sounding names, and every day I see people that get the names mixed up. You don't want to mix them up, as they all have different policies and service charges, or they could be displaying prices in different currencies, etc.

Some of the sites that people often mix up and have *no* relation to each other at all include...

Sites that start with 'flight': FlightCentre · FlightHub · FlightNetwork
Sites that start with 'cheap': CheapTickets · CheapOair

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Know the difference between a meta-search site, and a third party booking site - and you will be ahead of most people when it comes to booking flights online

Some of my favorite sites you may have seen me bring up time and time again over the years, such as Google Flights or Kayak are not third party booking sites. They are what are known as meta-search sites, which means they search multiple third party booking sites, and then send you to one of them, and that third party site is in control of your booking.

I often see people mistakenly claim "I booked my flight with Kayak / Google Flights / Skyscanner / TripAdvisor ". In reality, the person was sent *from* the meta-search site to a third party site for the actual booking.

That third party site is where the booking was generated, and the quality of the third party site you end up at is all that *really* matters, not the meta-search site that sent you there. The meta-search site involved really has no control whatsoever over your booking.

Popular meta-search sites that will send you to third party booking sites:

Kayak · Google Flights · Skycanner · Momondo · Hipmunk · CheapFlights · TripAdvisor

Below you'll find a ranking of all the third party booking sites you're ever likely to run across online.

I would strive to book with sites ranked #1 through #13 whenever possible.

For the record, over the last 6 years, I have yet to see a deal where it was necessary to send anyone to a third party site ranked lower than #13 for booking.


Third Party Booking Sites - The Power Rankings

Last updated: July 15, 2015



#1 - Expedia

Expedia Canada

www.expedia.ca ($CAD) or
www.expedia.com ($USD)

my opinion:

Yes, Expedia. You've probably heard of it! If you ever need support it's likely going to be someone based in Egypt (virtually all third party sites use offshore support), but they have excellent booking technology, and tickets are issued from the airline quickly, at the verified price that is shown on their website.

This is important because there are some third party sites with poor booking technology where this is not the case. They'll accept your payment details, and *hope* they can book your ticket at the price that was shown to you. If they can't, you'll receive a follow-up phone call or e-mail asking if you would still like the ticket (but at a different price).

If you don't agree to the new (and likely higher) price, you will not be charged. These are legitimate booking sites, and they're not *trying* to pull a bait-and-switch on the public. They just don't have the higher quality price verification and booking technology in place that other sites like Expedia do. Typically, the larger the site, the better the technology behind it.

I'll point out the third party sites that have poor booking technology as we make our way down the power rankings.

It's very easy to find numerous negative reviews of Expedia where someone found something to complain about, but also keep in mind they process over 40 BILLION dollars worth of bookings per year. Doing the math, if even 0.1% of their 20 million annual bookings resulted in a bad review, that would be 20,000 bad reviews!

cost of changing flights:

low service fees The airline's change fee + the increase in airfare price. So, the same as what the airline would charge you if booked directly.

heads up:

Expedia.ca displays prices in Canadian dollars ($CAD) while
Expedia.com is in U.S. Dollars ($USD).

Expedia.com allows free 24 hour cancellation, with 24 hours counting towards business days only. This is NOT the case with Expedia.ca - where free 24 hour cancellation really means the next 24 hours, whether it's business days or the weekend.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#2 - Priceline

Priceline

www.priceline.com

my opinion:

The only site that processes more bookings per year than Expedia these days is Priceline. They've had some great deals over the years, and have even honored all of the obvious 'error fares' that I can recall, including a round-the-world mistake fare for $130 !

The booking technology at Priceline is solid, and tickets are issued quickly.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $35 USD Priceline service fee + the airline's change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $35 USD more than what the airline would charge you if booked directly.

heads up:

Priceline always defaults to displaying prices in $USD, until you explicitly change it to $CAD (near the top right, on the search results page). Be aware that this setting could change back to $USD when you close your browser.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#3 - CheapOair

CheapOair

www.cheapoair.ca ($CAD) or
www.cheapoair.com ($USD)

my opinion:

CheapOair has one of the more positive reputations amongst Canadians. Occasionally I've seen them display supposedly 'verified' prices they couldn't deliver on. Their booking technology is not quite as solid as say, Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz.

But on the other hand, I've always heard generally good things about their customer service. And their service fee, should you require to make any changes, is quite low by industry standards, at $26 CAD (assuming it's not a multi-stop or business class / first class flight, as explained below).

cost of changing flights:

low service fees $26 CAD CheapOair service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $26 CAD more than what it would cost if booked with the airline directly.

Note that the service fee can be higher ($50-$100 CAD) if it's a multi-stop flight, or a business class / first class flight, as shown on their terms & conditions page.

heads up:

www.cheapoair.ca will display prices in $CAD, while
www.cheapoair.com will display prices in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#4 - Orbitz or CheapTickets

Orbitz

www.orbitz.com ($USD) or
www.cheaptickets.com ($USD)

my opinion:

Orbitz and CheapTickets are the exact same site. They are (were?) one of the big players in the third party booking site world, but are now owned by Expedia.

Similar to Expedia and Priceline, Orbitz has solid booking technology. Tickets are issued quickly, and if a price is verified on Orbitz, it's extremely likely they'll be able to deliver on it.

Their 'best price guarantee' for airfares is notoriously difficult to make a claim on. Should you require to make any changes to your booking, the Orbitz service fee, at $38 CAD, is lower than the industry average of $50 CAD.

cost of changing flights:

low service fees $30 USD Orbitz service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $30 USD more than what it would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

Orbitz and CheapTickets prices are *always* in $USD. Neither site offers the option to display prices in $CAD.

Do *not* get CheapTickets.com confused with CheapTickets.ca (a site which has no affiliation with CheapTickets or Orbitz whatsoever and should be avoided).

jump back up to index of booking sites



#5 - Travelocity

Travelocity

www.travelocity.ca ($CAD) or
www.travelocity.com ($USD)

my opinion:

For all intents and purposes, Travelocity is really just Expedia now. Yes, another giant online booking site that was swallowed up by the big E.

Travelocity has solid booking technology. They have had a few public incidents in the past where they didn't honor a promo code that was exploited. On the other hand, they've had a few well known incidents where they *did*.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $40 USD Travelocity service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $40 USD more than what it would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

Travelocity.ca displays prices in $CAD, while
Travelocity.com displays prices in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#6 - FlightNetwork or FlyFar

FlightNetwork

www.flightnetwork.com or
www.flyfar.ca

my opinion:

FlightNetwork and FlyFar are really the same site, although FlightNetwork is marketed much more heavily and way more common to run across.

FlightNetwork has a good reputation overall. Their heavily marketed 'price drop protection' is really in the form of a credit which can be applied towards a future flight, and not cash back, but that's still pretty generous considering there's really only about $10 worth of profit to be made on the sale of most flights.

There are a few sites that claim to offer price drop protection, but from what I've seen, FlightNetwork is seemingly the only one that does not work hard to screw customers out of a price drop claim with an endless list of technicalities.

cost of changing flights:

high service fee $100 CAD FlightNetwork service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $100 CAD more than what it would cost if booked with the airline directly. This is a pretty steep service fee relative to the industry average of $50 CAD.

Take the high service fees into consideration if you think there's a good chance you'll want to change your flight after booking,

heads up:

Prices on FlightNetwork and FlyFar are in $CAD by default, and they are in fact, Canadian owned companies.

FlightNetwork often has a promo code out for another $10-$20 off the price of a flight. It can be difficult to find the spot to enter this promo code. You'll find the spot to enter the promo code on the passenger details page (after you've selected the flight).

Here's a screenshot of where to enter it: (look near the bottom)
http://s17.postimg.org/ee0f9z4v3/Clipboard01.jpg

jump back up to index of booking sites



#7 - WebJet

WebJet

www.webjet.ca ($CAD) or
www.webjet.com ($USD)

my opinion:

Being an Australian company, it's not overly common to run across WebJet here in North America but they do have a decent reputation, and have come through on a few great deals in recent memory.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $25 to $100 CAD WebJet service fee (depending on domestic vs international flight) + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $25-$100 CAD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

www.webjet.ca displays prices in $CAD, while the prices on
www.webjet.com are displayed in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#8 - FlightHub or JustFly

FlightHub

www.flighthub.com or
www.justfly.com

my opinion:

I have mixed emotions about FlightHub. On one hand, their customer service has quite a bad reputation, and they have expensive change fees. But there's no doubt about it, there have been numerous occasions where they are one of the few (or only) sites showing an amazing (and bookable) price. If it were not for that saving grace, I would be tempted to rank them lower.

The consensus on FlightHub seems to be: If you don't anticipate needing to change or cancel your airfare down the road, they are fine to book with.

JustFly is run by the same company behind FlightHub, so my advice would be similar for both. FlightHub is marketed *much* more heavily on the web, and it's fairly rare to run across JustFly.

cost of changing flights:

high service fee $75 to $150 CAD FlightHub or JustFly service fee (depending on domestic vs international flight) + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $75-$150 CAD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly. These are quite high service fees, which you should take notice of, if you think there's a strong chance of you needing to change your flights later.

heads up:

FlightHub and JustFly both try to add an extra $20 fee to your bill by default during the flight booking process.

They call it a 'Best Purchase Guarantee', which allows you to 'cancel your booking within the same date of purchase'.

It's a pretty lame fee, because most third party booking sites and airlines will not charge you anything and issue a full refund if you decide to cancel a ticket within 24 hours of booking.

But, this $20 'Best Purchase Guarantee' does not even give you 24 hours to cancel, only until midnight of the day you booked. On top of that, if you *don't* pay this $20 fee up front, you will need to pay the high FlightHub or JustFly service fee ($75 to $150) should you decide to cancel, even if it's within 24 hours of booking.

Bottom line: triple-check all of your details before booking through FlightHub or JustFly, to make sure no changes will be required. You can easily deselect the $20 'Best Purchase Guarantee', it's right above where you enter your payment info.

The prices on FlightHub or JustFly are generally in $CAD by default, especially if you've arrived there from a meta-search site, such as Kayak or Skyscanner.

On FlightHub, it's possible to change the displayed currency in the top right of your screen, under the phone number. Look there to double check that the prices are being displayed in $CAD. (On JustFly, click on the name of the country, to the left of the phone number).

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#9 - Airfare.com

Airfare.com

www.airfare.com

my opinion:

Airfare.com is an American owned site. Even though Kayak is a meta-search travel site that *usually* just sends you to an external third party site for booking, Kayak will sometimes seemingly allow you to book a flight directly through Kayak. You're not *really* booking with Kayak though, your booking is being handled by Airfare.com

The biggest problem I've seen with Airfare.com over the years is how slow they can be at issuing tickets. This has led to a problem that I see with many third party booking sites, the ability to deliver on the price that a person thinks they've booked.

On the other hand, they have come through on a few more recent deals. The tickets were always issued just fine, it just seemed like Airfare.com was slow at updating customers with their booking details.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $200 USD (domestic flights) to $350 USD (international flights) Airfare.com service fee + the increase in airfare price.

Airfare.com is one of the third party sites that does not relay the typical 'airline change fee' that most third party sites (and airlines themselves) will charge you, but makes up for it by charging a very high service fee. They're basically including the maximum typical airline change fee in their service fee.

So, how much more you would *really* end up paying for any changes with Airfare.com (vs booking directly with the airline) is dependent on how much the airline involved would have charged you for their change fee.

The typical airline change fee is around $200 USD. If you're using an airline that would have charged you less than this amount when booking directly through them, then Airfare.com is effectively adding a hidden service fee.

heads up:

If you're booking with Airfare.com 'through' Kayak Canada, (identified by ca.kayak.com at the beginning of the link), the prices shown should be identified as being $CAD on the Kayak page you're looking at.

If you arrived at Airfare.com on your own, it's a different story. It seems that IF the departure city you use in your search is a Canadian one, the resulting prices will be in $CAD.

But if the departure city you use in your search is an American city, the resulting prices will be in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#10 - FlightCentre

FlightCentre

www.flightcentre.ca

my opinion:

FlightCentre is Australian owned, but pretty big in the Canadian market, and I can't say I've heard too many bad things about their customer service.

They're also one of the few brands left with actual bricks & mortar locations across Canada. Surely it's only a matter of time...

cost of changing flights:

*not sure* - The FlightCentre terms & conditions page does not give a clear indication of how much their service fee actually is.

All it says about making changes is that they 'will incur a penalty from the airline, service provider, or Flight Centre. Please see Invoice and Itinerary for penalty details.'

heads up:

The prices displayed on FlightCentre.ca are always in $CAD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#11 - RedTag

RedTag

www.redtag.ca

my opinion:

I can't say I've ever really seen a flight price that was exclusive to RedTag. They're more known for helping people with booking all inclusive packages, but they're pretty big as far as Canadian travel sites go, and I've always heard good things about their customer service.

cost of changing flights:

Unsure. The RedTag terms & conditions page states that service fees will apply (in addition to the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price, as usual) - but they don't stipulate what that service fee actually is.

heads up:

RedTag also adds an additional $15 ticketing fee (per ticket) upfront to the total cost of the airfare.

The prices on RedTag.ca are always in $CAD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#12 - OneTravel

OneTravel

www.onetravel.com

my opinion:

It hasn't been too often that I've seen any prices that are special or unique to OneTravel, but any feedback I've heard about their customer service is usually pretty decent.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees$35 USD OneTravel service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $35 USD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

The prices displayed on One Travel are always in $USD by default.

To change the prices to $CAD, have a look at the top right of your screen, under the phone number. You need to get to the flight search results page first before you can do this.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#13 - BudgetAir or Vayama

BudgetAir

www.budgetair.com or
www.vayama.com

my opinion:

BudgetAir and Vayama are really the same site, both owned by Travix International, a large agency in the Netherlands.

Their reputation is kind of middle of the road, not terrible, not great. I probably wouldn't be afraid to book with them if they were the only one showing a great price.

In regards to their booking technology, there have been a few incidents where they were unable to honor a displayed price (tickets weren't issued fast enough).

cost of changing flights:

high service fee BudgetAir or Vayama service fee of $100 $USD + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $100 USD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

This is a fairly steep service fee relative to the industry average of $50, so you may want to think twice if there's a good chance you'll want to change your flight plans later.

heads up:

There's a good chance that BudgetAir or Vayama are showing you prices in $USD, but it really depends on how you arrived at the site.

On BudgetAir, on the initial search results page it should show a '$C' beside the price (eg: $C 1043.56) - which is the price in $CAD. The same goes for the booking page. If it does not, you may want to try starting from www.budgetair.ca - which will redirect you to BudgetAir.com (but set the currency correctly).

On Vayama, the initial search results page will show the price in both $USD (big font) and $CAD (little font). After selecting your flights, the price is shown in $USD on the right hand side of the page, but if you scroll down to the bottom, it *may* show you the price in $CAD (depending on how you arrived at Vayama). If it does not, you may want to try starting your search again, at www.vayama.ca - which will redirect you to Vayama.com (but set the currency correctly)

jump back up to index of booking sites



#14 - Travelgenio or Travel2be

Travelgenio

www.travelgenio.ca or
www.travel2be.ca

my opinion:

Travelgenio and Travel2be are really the same site, both owned by a large Spanish travel company. If you've run across either of these sites, you were probably sent there from the meta-search site Skyscanner.

Ranked #14, this is where we start to get into the third party sites I'd probably avoid, if possible, as it's likely you can find the same price on a better third party site.

Travelgenio has had a pretty iffy reputation in the past, and there's a pretty good chance the support may only speak Spanish should you ever need to call.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees 30 Euro Travelgenio or Travel2be service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are 30 Euro more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

Make sure you are on the .ca version of Travelgenio (www.travelgenio.ca) or Travel2be (www.travel2be.ca), to ensure the prices are displayed in $CAD.

In some cases, the ca may also appear near the beginning of the link, such as http://ca.travelgenio.com or http://ca.travel2be.com

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#15 - eDreams

eDreams Canada

ca.edreams.com ($CAD) or
www.edreams.com (Euros)

my opinion:

eDreams is a pretty big player over in Europe (where they are based), but it's become slightly more common to see Canadians mention them, now that they sometimes show up in meta-search site giant Kayak's results.

Their support doesn't have a great reputation, and I think a lot of people end up accidentally booking in Euros with eDreams - leading to confusion about the price charged to their credit card.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $60 CAD eDreams service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $60 CAD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

The prices displayed on ca.edreams.com are in $CAD,
while the prices on www.edreams.com are in Euros.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#16 - Nanak Flights

Nanak Flights

www.nanakflights.com

my opinion:

Nanak Flights is a small-time agency based in Brampton, Ontario. I see them mentioned once in a blue moon (usually by Skyscanner users wondering if anyone else has used them).

This is pure speculation, but my guess is that their booking technology is slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, similar to other small-time agencies. You'll probably have to fax in your credit card details at some point. The majority of their positive reviews on Google seem to be written by family members.

cost of changing flights:

No idea, and I can't seem to find their service fees listed anywhere. The terms & conditions page simply states that they reserve the right to charge a fee for services.

heads up:

On Nanak Flights, the listed prices are always in $CAD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#17 - FareGeek

FareGeek

www.faregeek.com

my opinion:

FareGeek is another small-time agency that you'll probably only run across if you use Skyscanner.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $200 USD (domestic flights) to $350 USD (international flights) FareGeek service fee + the increase in airfare price.

FareGeek is one of the third party sites that does not relay the typical 'airline change fee' that most third party sites (and airlines themselves) will charge you, but makes up for it by charging a very high service fee. They're basically including the maximum typical airline change fee in their service fee.

So, how much more you would *really* end up paying for any changes with FareGeek (vs booking directly with the airline) depends on how much the airline involved would have charged you for a change fee.

The typical airline change fee is around $200. If you're using an airline that would have charged you less than this amount when booking directly through them, then FareGeek is effectively adding a hidden service fee.

heads up:

On FareGeek, IF the departure city you use in your search is a Canadian one, the results will be in $CAD. But if the departure city is an American city, the results will be in $USD.

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#18 - FareDepot

FareDepot

www.faredepot.com

my opinion:

Yep, you guessed it, FareDepot is yet *another* small-time booking site that you'll probably only run across if you use Skyscanner. FareDepot is based in the United States.

I'm fairly certain that FareDepot is run by the same company behind FareGeek. The sites do not have an overly similar appearance, but their terms & condition pages are identical. So it's either that, or one is plagiarizing the other.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $50 USD FareDepot service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, any changes would be $50 USD more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

On FareDepot, the displayed prices are *always* in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#19 - Tripsta

Tripsta Canada

www.tripsta.ca ($CAD) or
www.tripsta.com ($USD)

my opinion:

Tripsta is another site you probably ran across while using Skyscanner.

To be honest, I don't know a whole lot about Tripsta, and I rarely see anyone mention them. Their support number is a 1-900 number, and it appears to cost $0.99/min. If you've ever had to deal with anything travel related by phone, you know this could end up costing a small fortune!

I would avoid this one.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees $50 CAD Tripsta service fee + airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes are $50 CAD more than what they would cost if booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

The prices displayed on www.tripsta.ca are in $CAD (even though they don't point this out anywhere on the site), while the prices on www.tripsta.com are in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#20 - BravoFly

BravoFly

www.bravofly.com

my opinion:

BravoFly is owned by a somewhat large European travel conglomerate based in Italy.

Their support phone number costs $1.49/CAD per minute. This alone is generally enough of a red flag to avoid a booking site.

cost of changing flights:

20 Euro BravoFly service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, any changes would be 20 Euros more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

BravoFly doesn't make it very easy to see what currency they're billing you in.

While testing the site, there were times where I had allegedly set the currency to $CAD (top-right of your screen, beside the headphones), but it showed me the same price as when setting the currency to $USD.

This makes me pretty nervous about their ability to even bill in the correct currency, and another reason to avoid them.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#21 - BuyMyTrip

BuyMyTrip

www.buymytrip.ca ($CAD) or
www.buymytrip.com ($CAD)

my opinion:

We are really getting into the dredges of third party booking sites now. BuyMyTrip is yet *another* small-time booking site.

BuyMyTrip is really 'SkyRoute Travel Services' based in Toronto. If you Google around for the reviews, you'll discover that it appears to essentially be a 1 man operation.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees$60 CAD BuyMyTrip service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, any changes would be $60 CAD more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

On BuyMyTrip (both the .ca and the .com version), the displayed prices should always default to $CAD when you arrive, but you can make sure by looking at the top right of the page, beside 'Currency'.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#22 - TripAir

TripAir

www.tripair.com

my opinion:

TripAir is yet *another* small-time booking site that you'll probably only run across if you use Skyscanner. TripAir is based in Greece. Their phone support is a UK number.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees 30 Euro TripAir service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes would be 30 Euro more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

On TripAir, the prices seem to be in $CAD. It seems to perhaps auto-detect your location and set the currency for you. Make sure it says 'C$' beside the price.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#23 - AirTickets

AirTickets

www.airtickets.com

my opinion:

AirTickets is yet *another* small-time booking site that you'll probably only run across if you use the meta-search sites Skyscanner or Momondo.

AirTickets is based in Greece. Their phone support is a UK number.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

typical service fees 30 Euro AirTickets service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, any changes would be 30 Euro more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

heads up:

On AirTickets, the displayed prices are in Euros by default. There doesn't appear to be a way to manually set the currency, but if you start your search at ca.airtickets.com the prices will display in $CAD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#24 - ExploreTrip

ExploreTrip

www.exploretrip.com

my opinion:

ExploreTrip.com is an American owned site. I don't think I've ever seen *anyone* mention them before, and I really can't dig up much info on their background. I would avoid them.

cost of changing flights:

No idea, and I can't seem to find their fees listed anywhere.

heads up:

On ExploreTrip, IF the departure city you use in your search is a Canadian one, the resulting prices will be in $CAD. But if the departure city is an American city, the resulting prices will be in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#25 - BookAirfare

BookAirfare

www.bookairfare.com

my opinion:

BookAirfare is a third party site you might run across if you use the meta-search site Momondo. BookAirfare is based in the U.S.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

No idea. Their fees are not mentioned anywhere on the site.

heads up:

On BookAirfare, IF the departure city you use in your search is a Canadian city, the results will be in $CAD. But if the departure city is an American city, the results will be in $USD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#26 - Hop2

Hop2

www.hop2.com

my opinion:

Hop2 is yet *another* small-time booking site that you'll probably only run across if you use Skyscanner. Hop2 is based in New York City.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

high service fee $100 USD (domestic flights) to $300 USD (international flights) Hop2 service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes would be $100-$300 USD more than if you had booked with the airline directly. Very high service fees!

heads up:

On Hop2, the prices are *always* in $USD. There is not an option to change the currency to $CAD.

jump back up to index of booking sites



#27 - MyTrip

MyTrip

www.mytrip.com

my opinion:

MyTrip is yet another small-time travel agency based in Greece, with a UK support number.

Similar to other small-time agencies, I'd avoid them if possible, as the booking technology is likely slow, clunky, and fraught with issues, and it's likely you can do better.

cost of changing flights:

low 15 Euro MyTrip service fee + the airline change fee + the increase in airfare price.

So, changes would be 15 Euros more than if you had booked with the airline directly.

That's actually the cheapest service fee I've seen claimed by any third party booking site, but it still wouldn't be enough to entice me to book through them.

heads up:

On MyTrip generally defaults to displaying prices in Euros. The currency can be changed by clicking on the little flag near the top-middle of the screen.


jump back up to index of booking sites

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