Why should I book my flight with a travel agent rather than online?

Of course it is in my interests to book your flight but there are so many genuine reasons why booking through a travel agent is a better idea than just booking online.

I am a Travel Counsellor who has worked in the travel industry for well over 40 years. I  worked for BA at one stage and did their fares and routes training. Over the years, I have received many a desperate phone call asking for my help from people who have booked the wrong flights, put in the wrong names, arrive at the airport with an expired passport or without the correct visas, they have needed to change or cancel and find that “Computer says no” because they booked online or they charge unecessarily hefty fees, the price went up after they paid or the company they used has gone bust and many do.  I have helped as much as I can and very often for free but so much hassle could be avoided by using an agent like me in the first place.

  1. Choice – We have published fares, consolidated fares and IT fares as well as low cost and charter airlines that we can book, so we have several flight options to choose from with multiple airlines. We can also choose codeshares which are often cheaper
  2. Galileo – Our system is live and services many airlines. The fares I quote are what is available right now. That may not be the case next month, next week or even in half an hour so I recommend booking or at least holding an option straightaway especially if its a seat sale. Third party websites are often not live and prices can change even after paying.
  3. Options – we usually have the ability to hold flights on option at least for a few hours giving you enough time to think about it, hold the price for the rest of that day, check your friends/relatives are able to pick you up and get your payment sorted before pressing that button.
  4. Changes -If you have to change your flight, as long as its not a no changes/no refunds one we will do the changes for you at minimal cost, only what the airlines charge and perhaps a small admin fee if it is time consuming or if I have to make expensive phone calls.
  5. Cancellations – I will apply for a refund on your behalf and refund whatever I can get back minus a small admin fee and supply all the paperwork you need to claim the rest from insurance.
  6. Special Requests – frequent flyer. meal requests and seat requests, I can often do these directly through our Galileo system.
  7. Check in – If it is a low cost airline eg Easyjet, Ryanair I will print your boarding passes for you. If it is a legacy/scheduled flight I will advise you how to check in and where.
  8. Financial Protection – Every flight we book whether that is low cost, charter, or scheduled are covered by our insurance so if they go bust eg Excel, Zoom our insurance covers it
  9. Expertise – I have been booking flights for over 40 years and do this every day. I know which airlines and routes work together to seek out the best deals.
  10. Search – We will search out the best and cheapest options for you. It helps if you are flexible.There is no point in telling us it must be direct, it must be Heathrow and only on fixed dates and then go off and book something completely different eg Ryanair from Stansted a week later which of course is cheaper than BA over half term and that happens a lot so ask us first before doing that.
  11. Errors – If we make a mistake which is our own fault we pay, we have liability insurance to cover that too. If it is your fault eg name not correct we will still do our best to correct it for you but you will have to pay what the airline charges.
  12. Trade relationships – We have good relationships with many of the airlines and can sometimes pull strings when necessary.
  13. Pre seating – we will do this wherever possible but some airlines charge for this.
  14. APIs – I can do this for you as well and note your passport details securely for next time.
  15. Passports and visas – Although it is your responsibility to check your passport is valid and that you have the correct visas we will often spot if it needs renewing and advise you if you need a visa and how to apply for one.
  16. Questions and advice – I will do my best to answer any little  questions you may have
  17. Phone calls – Many of the airlines use premium rate numbers so ringing them can be expensive
  18. Medical issues – Again I can often put wheelchairs directly through our live system and deal with any other medical needs.
  19. New routes and seat sales – I get emails from all the airlines and read the trade papers so I know when seats get released and when there are seat sales.
  20. My time not yours – Why spend hours searching websites to save a few pounds when I can do that for you.
  21. Available – Evenings and weekends when other agencies are closed. This means I can sometimes pick up expired options and find cheaper fares.
  22. Luggage labels – just a small thing but I will write out your luggage labels for you
  23. Booking fee – Yes of course I charge a booking fee, I can’t work for free but I don’t charge that much either.
  24. Price – it might actually be cheaper even with the booking fee! As I mentioned we have contract rates, we can search different airlines, low cost, charter and scheduled and offer you choices and combinations that work together so you might end up paying less.

Isn’t all that  worth a small booking fee?

If you want an agent that is honest, reliable, gives good advice and will answer all your questions before 9am, after 5.30 or on a Sunday or even both, just call me on 020 3432 4740

If after all that you still want to book your flights online, at least use the airline direct website and not a random third party website. At least you know exactly who you are dealing with and that they are less likely to go bust taking your money with it .

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