Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Rose Morah
Is it better to book flights directly with airlines or with travel agencies?
I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer booking flights directly via airlines to booking through a third-party website.
Below are the reasons why you should book your flights directly with the airline and not with a travel agency.
Related: How to get cheap last-minute flights.
- Advantages of booking flights directly
- Is it cheaper to buy airline tickets online or at the airport?
Advantages of booking flights directly
1. Guaranteed airfare refund
Whenever air prices go down, right after booking your flight, many airlines will send you back the extra cash or apply it as credit towards your future airfare.
Additionally, when booking directly on the airline’s website, you are in most cases guaranteed a refund in case you cancel your flight.
However, this does not apply to all bookings.
So, what guarantees an airfare refund?
You are assured of getting a refund on airfare only when you book a refundable ticket.
However, you should also prepare to pay more than the original airfare on certain routes.
If you book a non-refundable air ticket, you will get an airfare refund if:
- You cancel your flight within the 24-hour time frame of your booking. However, this only applies to tickets bought at least seven days before the flight departure. This is what is required by law in the United States and most countries. However, there are some airlines that offer more generous time frame policies.
- The airline cancels, delays, or reschedules the flight. On canceled flights, you can only get a full refund if they cancel but you decide not to rebook a new flight. And on that note, you can only get a full refund only if you check in for the flight. You can do so by either checking in online or showing up at the airport.
On the other hand, if your flight gets rescheduled in the following ways;
- Change in departure or/and arrival time.
- A switch from a non-stop flight to connecting flight.
You may call the airline and request a refund.
See also: How to Plan A Trip For Someone (Steps Involved).
2. You can change flights at no cost
Most airlines will allow you to change your flight without charging you the change fee.
However, some airlines will only offer free change of flights in case of upcoming severe weather.
The airline will then give you a time frame to make a free booking without charging the fare difference.
3. You enjoy great airline deals
Airlines will sometimes offer special perks if you book directly with them. These perks include extra miles, airport lounge access, free WIFI, food, and drink credits.
Here is an example from the Alaska airline website
Now compare that with travel agency websites
4. Great discount codes for loyal customers
Oftentimes, airlines give out discount codes that only apply to those booking directly with them. The codes will hence not be applicable if you’re booking through online travel agencies.
These discount codes are, however, not always available on any day/time. Most airlines give discount codes on holidays, while some give out new codes every month.
Where can you get airline discount codes?
The following are the main places where you can easily get great airline discount codes:
- Through the airline’s website.
- Through email alerts from the airline if you have signed up/subscribed to them.
- Some airlines store available discount codes in the “My Account profile”.
- Through third-party travel websites such as Skyscanner etc.
Most airlines have rules on how to use discount codes. Some of the general rules include:
- Use one discount code per reservation.
- The discount codes can only be redeemed on the specific airline’s website.
- The discount cannot be applied to changed flights – it only applies to the original ticket flights.
Where are the discount codes located on an airline’s website?
The easiest way to find the discount codes is by doing a quick Google search.
Type the name of your booking airline, followed by the discount codes.
(For example; American Airlines discount codes)
On the search result, be sure to specifically click the American Airlines link, as you will certainly get a dozen other sites promising you great percent discounts.
Next, click on Book/Explore/Plan tab, or anything similar to that.
You will be able to find travel deals and discount codes on this page.
Once you’ve got a valid discount code, be sure to apply it on the airline’s website before it expires.
5. “Fly now, pay later” Plan
Most major airlines allow you to fly without fully paying the total airfare through the monthly payment option.
However, this comes at an extra cost in terms of interest charges. You may also be required to apply for their credit card to qualify for this plan.
For instance, American Airlines will require you to apply for an American Airlines® Credit Card SM to qualify for this option.
The good news is that they don’t charge interest on purchases over $150 or when you pay in full within 6 Months.
They do, however, charge interest on late payments that are not paid in full within 6 months.
United Airlines also has a feature that is known as Uplift that allows travelers to book and pay later in fixed monthly payments.
They don’t charge any late payment fees, and you apply and get a response immediately.
You’ll only need to make sure that you book early (a few days apart) before departure.
Afterpay is available on over 600+ Airlines worldwide. The following are some of the airlines that offer After pay option:
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Virgin Australia
6. Easy and fast to solve problems
It is usually easier to solve any problem that may arise with your flight, such as; flight delays, cancellations, or even booking changes when you book directly with the airline.
This is because the airline staff can directly assist you and will be at your complete service at any particular time.
However, this does not mean that all airlines are good at customer service.
Here are two tips that you can apply to ensure that your problems are solved on time:
- Don’t rely on one customer care representative
When talking on the phone with a representative who seems not to know how to solve your problem, you can politely end the phone call and then call again.
Chances are, you will get another customer care representative who will assist you.
Sometimes, you may even have to call up to three times to get that one representative who will in some way give you better advice.
- Take advantage of social media
Social media can play a great role in helping solve your unresolved issues much more quickly.
Without calling out the airline publicly, you can just send them a direct message via their official social media page.
I recommend sending a direct message on Twitter for fast replies.
Is it cheaper to buy airline tickets online or at the airport?
Although this will depend on the airline, most airlines sell plane tickets at a higher price at the airport than purchasing the same tickets online.
However, very few airlines, such as Spirit Airlines, will give you better deals when you are buying plane tickets at the airport.