Shopping on the Internet is a popular activity for bargain
convenience shoppers. When it comes to travel, Travelocity,
Expedia and Orbitz are among the most popular and why not?
These three sites offer airfares, hotels, cruises, car rentals,
package deals and more----a one-stop shopping destination.
In the wake of September 11, Orbitz
has started to tack on a fee for booking flights online. The
$5 fee applies to airline tickets only at this time. Orbitz,
a consortium owned by several of the major air carriers including,
American, Northwest and United Airlines claimed they imposed
the fee to cover the cost of maintaining the Orbitz website.
In fact they need to generate revenue thanks in large measure
to the current recession. Don't be surprised if they start
to charge for some of their other services once the consumer
gets accustomed to paying this fee. When Orbitz launched last
June, they billed themselves as a cheap alternative to using
the other search engines because the consumer dealt directly
with the airlines. All the major carriers
were really trying to do is seize market share so they wouldn't
have to pay commissions to Travelocity,
and travel agents. Not only have they eliminated or drastically
reduced the commissions they pay to travel agents,
now they are acting as their own travel agent and charging
fees that should
already be part of the cost of doing business.
If you book a ticket through Orbitz before January 14, 2002,
this fee will be
waived for the first transaction only. If you make two separate
you will be billed $5 per ticket for the second transaction.
14, everyone pays $5 per ticket. Despite the $5 service fee,
still offer the best deals on airfare. Why, because you are
with the airline rather than some third-party provider. Dealing
airlines directly will usually result in the lowest fares
they are required by law to list all published fares, not
just specials or
other incentive deals. Here's a way to get around the $5 fee.
reservations directly on the airlines website rather than
using Orbitz or any
other Internet search engine.
Travelocity and Expedia still don't charge a fee to use their
engines. The advantage to using these two Internet giants-----you
several air carriers at once for the best deals. The only
imposed will be for a Northwest Airlines ticket on Travelocity.
Northwest stopped paying commissions to all the search engines
has passed on a $10 fee to the consumer, but all other carriers
free of charge on both search engines. Once you find something
you like on
Travelocity and Expedia, go back and compare that to the price
for the same ticket. Then carry it one-step further and see
if the airlines
own website offers a better deal.
Orbitz isn't the only Internet travel provider to charge
a service fee.
Priceline for instance charges almost $6 per ticket, Trip.com
charges $10 per
ticket plus a $5 processing fee. And if that's not bad enough,
many of the
tickets purchased through Priceline or Trip.com come with
like being nonrefundable and nontransferable, meaning if your
you can't get your money back or transfer to a different date.
The bottom line when purchasing tickets online, you usually
get the best
deals directly from the airline with the least amount of restrictions
ticket. Travelocity and Expedia provide convenience and comparison-shopping.
Wholesalers, consolidators or auction sites like Priceline
deals, but the tickets come with heavy restrictions and could
multiple layovers. If your goal is to save a bundle and you
are sure your
plans won't change then by all means try one of these discounters,
stick to the airlines or the big search engines. Not mentioned
Southwest Airlines, which doesn't belong to any Internet search
Southwest Airlines deals, go directly to their site.