The Covid-19 pandemic has upended a lot of things about the travel industry. And airlines, in particular, are still working out how to entice travelers to book seats on their planes.
One of the most consumer-friendly developments is that major airlines have eliminated change and cancellation fees.
After all, who wants to pay for a flight only to find that it’s completely worthless if you need to change your travel dates because a global pandemic upended your plans.
That’s great news for consumers. It means we can book travel today and, if our plans change next week or next month, we can:
- change our travel dates, or
- cancel our flights and get a voucher that we can use when we’re ready to fly
But a lot of online travel agencies have not waived fees.
This is all great news—unless you booked your flight through one of many online travel agencies who have not waived their fees.
Take the example of FareDropped member Shaun, who had booked a one-way flight home from Europe to Chicago on IcelandAir through the online travel agency GoToGate.
(You’ve probably seen this online travel agency show up in your results if you’ve ever searched for flights through a travel search engine like Kayak or Google Flights.)
Long story medium, Shaun had to cut his trip short because of the Covid outbreak—and subsequent travel restrictions—in northern Europe.
The good news: IcelandAir had waived all change and cancellation fees (which used to start at $250).
The bad news: Since he had booked through an online travel agency, he had to make all changes through GoToGate. And they were not waiving their change fees or their ticket cancellation policies. (They also weren’t picking up the phone.)
The online travel agency was charging:
- A $50 fee just to get access to a customer service agent who could make a change
- Another $250 change fee to actually make a change
There are a number of other benefits that come with booking directly through your airline, including priority re-booking if your flight is delayed or canceled.
These days, airlines almost always offer the same exact price that you would pay through the most common and reputable online travel agencies, ultimately saving you money, hassle and time.
In summary: when you can, book directly with the airline.
We suggest using a travel search engine—like Kayak or Google Flights—which compare different fares for you. And then book directly with the airline that has the best flights that suit your needs.
And be sure to sign up for a free trial of FareDropped, so if the price of your ticket falls after you book your ticket, we can help you get a voucher from your airline.