How we buy plane tickets has certainly changed over the years. In the early days of flying just finding a carriers schedule required a significant amount of effort. Say you wanted to fly from Boston to Chicago, you would have to call up the airlines that fly out those airports, line up the days you need to go and hopefully buy the ticket. You could also consult a travel agent who would have an OAG schedule guide to figure out which flight they can get you on and then call up the airline and buy the ticket on your behalf. Now the process is much simpler and can be done completely online. Today I wanted to share the ways I buy plane tickets, my methods and process. I would also like know how our users go about buying tickets and what works best for them. Suggestions are always welcomed.
When I am planning a trip or know I need to fly somewhere, I always start with the metasearch websites. I have three that I hit right off the bat: Kayak, Google Flights and Hipmunk. Kayak has been a go to for at least five years. Their layout is great and I can set defaults for the way I want tickets presented. Also when I click on a flight and am taken to the airlines website, the price from Kayak almost always matches the airlines price. Some metasearch companies seem to put out bunk prices just to get you to click through. Also I like their Explore function which will show the lowest price to go from your home airport to major airports all over the world. Google flights is new on my radar and I trust most applications from Google. It is very easy to use. My third go to is Hipmunk. I like their website for choices and you can set email prices alerts which I enjoy.
For certain airlines like Southwest, Ryanair, EasyJet and many African airlines you have to go straight to the website. Some airlines are averse to giving their information out to GDS’s like Sabre and Amadeus and want to keep their schedule and price data in house. Also they don’t want to pay the OTA’s commissions. I will do this if my destination is only served by the particular airline or I am looking to save some money because the fares on the metasearch sites aren’t giving me what I want.
Online Travel Agents
I like using OTA’s but I am not partial to one. I find myself using Expedia when I fly to Asia because they seem to get the best price with Singapore Airlines. In general they are great for comparing prices but I like using metasearch websites for that and the OTA rewards programs aren’t really that great. Also if you have an issue with ticket or your flight gets cancelled, it’s so much easier dealing directly with the carrier than with the customer service folk at the OTA’s.
Brick and Mortar Travel Agents
I think I have used a travel agent once in my life and it’s not something I would usually use. I am of the internet age and believe I can get the best prices for myself and don’t usually enjoy package deals. There is a place in the industry for Travel Agents but I think it’s for an older crowd and less developed parts of the world. I am not sure how long Travel Agents will stick around as technology spreads and under developed areas progress.
Airline Counter at the Airport
To be honest this my favorite way of buying plane tickets. It is instant and I am usually flying a smaller remote airline that I have never flown before. It usually means I am in a foreign country traveling and need to get somewhere quickly and on a whim which is always exciting. The last time I did this was with Air Panama in Panama City, Panama. Went to the local airport bought a one way to ticket to Bocas Del Toro and was on a Fokker 50 with ash trays in the armrest two hours later. It’s a much more exciting way of buying plane tickets than clicking confirm on your laptop.
Let me know what you buying process and what your favorite sites to use are? Buying tickets is a very calculated process and involves a lot of research and hours spent comparing fares. As always when you to get to the airport let tripchi be your guide. If you haven’t already be sure to sign up for the beta, we are launching very soon. Travel On!