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October 13, 2007

eTickets, Cheap Airfares and On-line Booking of Flights

IATA requires the whole airline industry to switch from the traditional paper tickets into eTickets by May 2008. If you've been travelling a lot lately, you will notice that most airlines are now issuing eTickets - a piece of ordinary paper that contains the booking reference and the flight itinerary.

With the current available technologies and the airlines' switch to eTickets, online booking of flights is now becoming a popular alternative to the traditional booking with travel agents. Many airlines are now promoting online booking of flights. Airlines even give promotional discounts to encourage travellers to book flight online. There are also many web-based companies offering cheap airfares for various destination. These on-line facilities allow flights to be booked and paid online. In-turn, eTicket is issued to the traveller.

Honestly, I haven't explored booking and purchasing tickets online much although I am a fan of Travelocity for checking airfares and possible itineraries. I've always rely on travel agents because with just a phone call, somebody will take care of our needs. But lately, I discovered some benefits of booking on-line.

In his recent trip, I told my husband to try the on-line booking facility of Qatar Airways since there's no difference on the cost of the airfare anyway, whether he will book online or through an agent. Things went well and we didn't encounter any problem at all. We did everything at the convenience of our home.

Then, the other day, I also booked a flight online for someone (from US) who needs to go to Doha. At first, the arrangement is we will wire the money so he can buy his ticket. But I was so shocked that his agent quoted 10,000 USD for a round trip business class ticket. This is way out of my budget and there's no way my boss will approve it. I offered him to buy his tickets. I asked around for info and I found out that my one of colleagues usually scout for cheap tickets online whenever he needs to fly someone to Doha. He also gave me tips on how to get good deals. Upon his advice, I searched at Kayak.com and found a ticket for 7,500 USD. What's good with Kayak.com is that it searches different websites and gives a summary results without the need to visit several different websites.

Here are some thoughts on how to get a good deal on ticket prices and booking online vs. contacting a travel agent.

Cheap Tickets/ Airfares
  • I discovered that you can have a lot of savings if you fly during weekdays as opposed to flying on a weekend.
  • Consider the peak and off-peak seasons. For instance, Summer and Christmas are considered peak season so airfare will be higher no matter what.
  • Watch out for airline promotions. They can give you very good savings.
  • Consider flying with budget airlines.
  • Accumulate airmiles. It is also a good way to get a free ticket.

The following websites are good resources for finding cheap tickets:

If you are planning to go to a single destination and you have a preferred airline, you can also visit the airlines' online booking facility.

Advantages of On-line Booking

  • The main advantage of on-line booking is convenience. You can do it at home and no need to line-up at the travel agency - which can be time consuming.
  • Instant confirmation.
  • Easier to search flights.
  • Can be cheaper.

Some Disadvantages/Limitations of On-line Booking

  • It's usually book and pay. Unlike with a travel agent, you can book first and then pay afterwards. Travel agents can also put you on wait-list if there are no seats available at the time of booking.
  • You need a credit card for payment and you may need a higher credit limit if you are booking for multiple trips or several passengers. Some websites accepts only credit card issued in the US or Europe.
  • Check for restrictions before paying. While tickets are cheap, there can many restrictions.
  • One thing I haven't discovered yet is how to rebook flights although for Qatar Airways and Emirates, I think, you just need to call them or visit their office.

Booking online or through an agent will always have advantages and disadvantages. It's a matter of choosing which will work best for us.

How about you, have you tried online booking? Do you have more tips for finding cheap tickets and online booking?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi! i was wondering of you know any sites that accepts credit cards from the philippines. i was trying to get a ticket for ny-miami but most sites do not accept credit cards with a philippine billing address.

Nina said...

Have you tried travelocity.com? I had the same problem when I was trying to book a ticket from houston to doha. Most sites will only accept creditcards issued in the US except travelocity.com. Good Luck!