I think this topic does not get as much attention as it should. That’s why i am here to warn everyone before you suffer the consequences. This is a post about what online travel agencies you should avoid using.
So what OTA’s should people avoid? Basically, most of them.
One thing i would like to say before i start is that i am not trying to force anyone to use a certain travel agency or not, what i am doing here is giving you information that may be useful to you. You can use my advice or ignore it, it is always your choice.
Well, let’s start with this tip.
First of all, i would like to say that i travel quite a lot and buy tickets constantly. I have used many different agencies throughout my life and also different search engines. I know about Kayak, Skyscanner, Momondo, etc. Do i recommend them to search for flights? Yes, i do. Do i recommend them to buy flights? NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.
WHY ARE OTAs NOT RECOMMENDED
Because there is a little detail people forget when they book through these websites.
- These websites are NOT travel agencies. They don’t sell anything, they just show you different options.
- They are not responsible for whatever the online travel agency (OTA) on the list shown does to you or your money. They are paid for publicity, those online travel agencies pay them to appear on their results, nothing else.
- Many times, you see what airline you’re flying with but the airline does not even appear on the list of websites to book with. Leaving people with online travel agencies (OTA) to choose from.
This, is a problem. Because most OTAs shown on Skyscanner/Kayak/Momondo are the ones to avoid.
Most of them have policies that you may not like much, and you will accept those policies by ticking the Terms and Conditions box when you are booking the ticket.
WHAT KIND OF POLICIES DO THEY HAVE?
They have some interesting ones that may make you not want to book with them or make you regret booking with them after you do.
These are some of their policies:
- When you buy a ticket, you are not really buying a ticket. You are REQUESTING, which means they receive your request and then try to buy your ticket with the amount of money you paid. If it is possible, cool, you got your ticket. If it is not possible, you will have to pay whatever price difference.
- Their prices are not live. The prices shown on their websites are not live prices like the airlines have, when you think you are buying a ticket 90$ cheaper than the airline’s site, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. You may be lucky and get away with it but sometimes you will not, OTAs will send you an email telling you the price has increased and that you have two options: either pay the difference and get your ticket or get a refund after their admin fees (which are ridiculously high, of course).
- You cannot contact the airline and solve whatever issue, the airline will usually send you to the OTA because you bought the ticket with them so the ticket has to be changed through them.
- Their insurance/guarantee is useless. Basically, unless you die, you can kiss your money goodbye.
- They are not as interested in solving your problems. You will send emails, and they will not reply. You will call and have to explain the same problem to 5 different agents. They will hang up on you. They will threaten you with cancelling your ticket if you do not pay.
- Customer service is garbage. When you try to contact them to change a detail or even cancel, you will have to pay to call them. They have premium rate numbers and they keep you on hold for minutes or even hours. So, while you wait, or talk, they are still making money. Sometimes people wanting to cancel or change sometimes end up spending more money talking to them than on the ticket itself.
- Last minute tickets with OTAs are never a good idea. They cannot provide you a ticket for tomorrow or in a couple hours, it takes time and while you think you bought a ticket, you just requested. By the time you receive the ticket, you already lost your flight.
- They make mistakes and you will have to pay (literally) for it. You may want to fly with your child and make it clear your child is an infant. Well, you may be charged an adult fare or maybe they forget to include your child on your flight back.
- They buy separate tickets and join them in a single ticket to make it seem they are connections when they are not (Kiwi is an expert doing this). This one is one of the most hurtful if you need a visa. When you fly with transit, some airports allow you to stay in the transit area without a visa but if you want to get out, you do need a visa. What happens is that, as you got a single ticket from the OTA, you may think you don’t need a visa, but you do, because the airline sees your transit as your last destination. Your checked bag will not go all the way to the last destination, especially when the airlines are different and have no relationship. This means, you will have to check out and check in again once you’re in “transit” or abandon your checked bag. If you have nothing checked, it is still a problem because the airline will not let your board unless you have a visa, even if you show them you have a flight a couple hours after theirs. You will lose your flight AND your money. And don’t think about complaining to them, it is probably written on the T&C’s you agreed on.
- They will not tell you about visa issues. THIS IS NOT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY, IT IS YOURS. But still, people expect OTAs to tell them they need a transit visa for a certain country. They will not tell you, so do your research, or book with us.
- Nothing is confirmed unless the airline says so. If you chose a seat (and paid for it), never think it is yours until the airline tells you it is. Same with luggage.
- They will charge you admin fees while you buy making that cheap deal not as cheap. Some will even charge after you click buy so you don’t know about the fees until you pay. You think you are paying 260$, and when you click “BUY”, you notice they charged you 30$ per passenger as fees. Not very funny, is it? And if you want a refund, the fees cannot be refunded and they will also add cancellation fees per person and per flight so you are basically getting nothing. Most people just give up and accept they have been cheated somehow but it is not a scam, it is clear on their T&C’s but nobody reads them until it is too late.
- Changes and cancellations will cost you a lot of money. Sometimes cancelling your ticket will cost you as much as the ticket itself or more. Same with changes, they will kill you with fees. The issue is that people complain about this but it is clear on their T&C’s you accepted when you requested to buy a ticket.
- They do the online check-in for you and forget to do it so you are forced to pay fees at the airline’s desk for not checking in online. Some don’t even give you the option to do it yourself, like Kiwi does.
- If you get a refund, it will take many days, from 7 days to never.
- If you book a package (hotel+flight+car rental), confirm everything is correct with each one of them and check regularly.
- Even if everything is confirmed, they can cancel your booking days before you fly or even hours before. You never know until you get to the airport.
- Any schedule changes or cancellations made by the airline may not be notified. You will have to check yourself.
- Refunds are almost never full. They will ask for admin fees and airline fees, etc. Your money will not come back the way it left. But it also makes sense because you hire them to do a job for you and that is not done for free. And also remember, most tickets you buy are non-refundable anyway so they are actually doing you a favor.
The cheapest ticket (through an OTA) is usually either a lie or covering their horrible customer service. Never jump on a ticket because it is cheap, you will regret it.
It is better to either buy the ticket through the airline’s website (whatever their price is, using us or Google flights) to avoid headaches or use us as your travel agency as we do care about our customers and will provide you with all the information before your flight so everything goes smoothly. We also reply to all our messages and we even tell you about visas you may need before you buy the ticket.
From the endless list of OTAs out there, which ones are the ones to avoid? Basically, most of them.
From the ones i used when i was young and dumb, Edreams is the worst. I swear, with Edreams, my sugar increased, and my cholesterol also. They are just the worst in my opinion. Not only do they charge admin fees before you book but their customer service is also too slow and incompetent. I recommend never buying anything through Edreams.
I also have some experience with Supersaver, Gotogate and Kiwi. I never had any bad experience with them but it is also true i usually book with the airline. The only issue i had with Kiwi is that they do not allow you to check in online by yourself. I was lucky they always checked in online on time (for me, at least) but i did not like it. With the rest, i did not have issues but i only booked once.
WHAT DO PEOPLE RECOMMEND
The ones that many people do not recommend are:
- Travel Trolley
The ones that have “not that many” bad reviews are:
- Opodo (has a relationship with Edreams, but better than them)
Does it mean you will have no issues with them? No, but they are more reliable.
And even though i did not have that many issues, i recommend reading reviews of these websites before requesting to buy.
You have some nice reviews down below:
MY FINAL ADVICE
- Do your research before booking through these OTAs.
- Use search engines just to search, not to book.
- Book with ideygo and get all the info you need for your trip with tickets bought from the airline.
- Book directly with the airline if that is whay you prefer.
If you need more information about this topic, let us know.