Can travel agents offer better fares than booking directly with airline?

23 replies

Ross

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 10 May 2014

Total posts 83

Sometimes the airline site is the best, sometimes an OTA and I used to find AMEX Platinum Travel very good but of the past year they can often not even do as well as the airline site.

My recent example was a CX J rtn DOH-KUL for just over $2000AUD on the CX website which AMEX could only quote $6500AUD - they could not see the CX fare in their system.

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 14 Sep 2012

Total posts 16

It’s not so much online website vs travel agent, it’s more that a travel agent applies human intervention and market knowledge of fares and can manipulate options which an online website struggles to do. Simple point to point with same airline then online is easy (and fares will be like/like), but start getting complicated ie intricate itineraries, round world, interline, mixed class the online technology just isn’t advanced enough and this is where travel agents can calculate clever options.

patrickk

Qantas

Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 525

It also depends on the individual agent. I remember once on a long complex trip I got sick for a few days and had to have the ticket reissued. In the same company I got a quote which was quite high and I said I would have to think bout it and come back. When I came back and a different agent calculated it at $1k cheaper. If it seems a bit high just get an second opinion. The same can happen when using a QF call centre. It can come down to the quality, patience, and persistence of the agent.

cerebralbliss

Member since 22 Jan 2015

Total posts 12

My understanding is that airline commissions to travel agents are miserable, like about 5% for international, and zero for domestic bookings. TA's make their profits mostly on their other products and bookings, eg 40% on travel insurance.

Can anyone confirm or deny this?


I can tell you that they don't pay 40% on travel insurance anymore. Bear in mind that for airfares, there is no commission paid on 'taxes', which often include a massive component of fuel surcharges. Travel agents get a really raw deal from most airlines, in this respect. They get fair to decent commission for land rates.

Joe

Member since 03 May 2013

Total posts 108

Yes, always go on line, say sky scanner, and 7/10 times you'll find an on line travel agent with a cheaper fare than an airlines website. This is especially true for international fares. Even when Qantas, for example, is on sale I have 100% of the time always found that sale fare a few hundred dollars cheaper on line. Because off my distrust of on line TA's I have taken that fare printed out or sent as screen shot and had a trusted travel agent match it. Flight Centre in my experience has nearly always been more expensive than what I've been able to find a fare for- usually the same as the airline website. Also I know some Middle Eastern Travel agents have superb fares to that region which are not found anywhere else.

Last editedby Joe at Jun 12, 2018, 09:12 PM.

sydney slug

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

Member since 27 Feb 2015

Total posts 2

FWIW I almost always use a travel agent long haul. My agent knows me well and will bend over backwards to make sure my family friends and I have the best fare sometimes directing us away from her business when she cannot match. I have directed a lot of family friends and one small business account her way and she has responded well to any request any of those referrals have made of her. When my father - in -law died on a Saturday we were due to travel long haul, I called her mobile and she went into the office waiting there to find out what day the funeral was to sort out refund on hotels and change of airline tickets. Sometimes it is not just about the price of the ticket. I will use her rather than direct when ever I can.

BJ01

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 07 Dec 2015

Total posts 55

FWIW I almost always use a travel agent long haul. My agent knows me well and will bend over backwards to make sure my family friends and I have the best fare sometimes directing us away from her business when she cannot match. I have directed a lot of family friends and one small business account her way and she has responded well to any request any of those referrals have made of her. When my father - in -law died on a Saturday we were due to travel long haul, I called her mobile and she went into the office waiting there to find out what day the funeral was to sort out refund on hotels and change of airline tickets. Sometimes it is not just about the price of the ticket. I will use her rather than direct when ever I can.

I envy you! I stopped using agents many years ago now. IMO, once you step outside the realms of the bog standard, 'what's in the brochure' type travel, they let you down. The 20 something year old behind the desk or over the phone, can't bring any meaningful experience to the table and I found I always ended up paying more for it - particularly accomodation.

I had a top agent many years ago who was fantastic and I didn't care if it cost me a little more - what he gave me in recommendations, insights and his own experience was priceless...

johnjayson

Member since 27 Jun 2018

Total posts 1

travel agent will often have higher price than the airlines since they took small fees for booking and taking care of your flight

flyOFTEN

Member since 24 Apr 2015

Total posts 14

wow what a lot of illinformed people.


We had a specialist tour operation doing ski holidays only. We sold out 2.5 years ago.


We used to get a decent commission on some airlines(10% or more, depending on turnover up to 20% but not including taxes, so on a $2200 airfare to USA, we could sometimes make $400, but usually less as we often discounted & ended up making $200 or less & most airfares we sold were less than $2200 & we would never ever sell Qantarse, as their commission was awful & they were incredibly arrogant to deal with & Qantarse is not that special), but made our money on deals we had with various resorts, that you could never ever find online & understand that this still occurs.


Eg. we used to get virtually free lift tickets, whereas the next cheapest way was expensive season passes.


Was talking to new owners a few days ago & yes they said they can offer up to 97% off ticket window lift ticket prices, BUT BEWARE, almost no one buys their lift tickets at ticket windows, so the prices there are like ficticious hotel rack rates, which they supposedly discount from. Recently at a massive resort in Colorado where day lift tickets were advertised via big sign saying nearly USD$200/adult/day, but everyone in the queue, was exchanging some sort of voucher for either something like 7 days tickets or some discount or other.


The latest EPIC & IKON season passes are very expensive unless you get to ski a minimum of 40 days a year & not many of us can do that.


The real money was in the accommodation. Online travel agents have pushed up prices because they demand so much commission & this is where we had a huge advantage. Was talking to a petrol station chain owners who said that Coles/Woolies push fuel prices up so much, that they can now make a decent margin & still be much cheaper than Coles/Woolies fuel prices even with supposedly 4 cents a litre off, which seems to suck a lot of people in.

Last editedby flyOFTEN at Jun 27, 2018, 09:47 PM.

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