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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Want cheapest air tickets? -book direct on airline website

Do you book your airline tickets through travel aggregators like makemytrip (MMT), Ezeego1,Yatra, Flightraja, cleartrip etc? All of them claim they give you lowest airfare. Some of them offer an “upto 50% cash back offer” when paid through a ICICI platinum and other specific credit cards. Because these websites book several tickets everyday they must be getting some discount from airlines and ideally should pass on a part of it to end users (customers who buy tickets from them). But truth seems to be otherwise.

After preliminary inspection I found that booking direct on airline website is cheapest option, as most of the travel sites quoted slightly higher than airline website.

Some random sample data for your quick information:

One way trip- Origin: Chennai , Destination: Mumbai, Date 23rd May 2008 Indigo flight 6E-422

Fare at airline website: Rs 3174 MMT- Rs 3249 Cleartrip-Rs 3276 Ezeego1-Rs 3301 Yatra- Rs.2,959 (Rs 99 + Rs 2,860 taxes & fees)

One way, Origin: Mumbai, Destination: Kolkata, Date 31st May 2008 Jet Airways 9W-211

Fare at airline website: Rs 6800 (4075+2350+225+150) MMT- Rs 6855(4050+2805)Cleartrip-Rs 6855 Ezeego1-Rs 7025 Yatra Rs.6,835 (Rs 4,075 + Rs 2,760 taxes & fees)

One way, Origin: Delhi, Destination: Chennai, Date 26st May 2008 Kingfisher IT 234

Fare at airline website: Rs 5200 MMT- Rs 6325 (Rs 3525+2800) Cleartrip-Rs 6352- Ezeego1 Rs. 6472-Yatra-Rs 6335 (Rs 3,575 + Rs 2,760)Flightraja

Feel free to explore on your own to see if they really offer lowest fare.

So, in conclusion, none of the travel sites give you lowest fares. So why are all these site claiming of cheapest offers? The 50% cash back is even bigger joke. Cash back is on base fare only-you’ll get 49 Rs back on Rs 99 base fare, after few months. Even after cash back the fare is expensive than airline direct quote.

My advice: Refer to any of the travel site, select the flight you find convenient, then go to website of that airline and do the booking. (you may also use ixigo.com or yahoo fairchase)

Most of us won’t have patience to check price at multiple sites and chose lowest one. We blindly select one of the above sites and book the ticket. The only advantage, if any is that these travel aggregators may save some time (which otherwise might have been spent typing credit card number and other details at multiple places) as you can do multiple tasks at one place. If you don’t mind paying a small premium for that then go for it.

Also note: If you had to reschedule/cancel the flight, getting a refund from these travel sites will be a nightmare. Those who have used IRCTC for online railway ticket reservation know that IRCTC has an extremely efficient cancellation mechanism. Amount will be promptly credited back within days if you cancel the ticket. If IRCTC can offer such a smooth technology enabled reservation cancellation facility why can’t these travel sites (including most of the airline websites) give the same? Why customer is expected to make several phone calls (STD calls in many cases) to travel sites customer care? Why the advanced technology (like online payment) is used only to take your money and when it comes to refund your money why should you use age old idea of calling through telephone?

Same with hotel rooms- Call the hotel directly and insist on a corporate discount-you are very much likely to get it at a rate far cheaper than what is offered on the travel sites.

March 2009 update: I made an attempt to communicate with cleartrip through their twitter account. But didn't get any reply to my question in which I asked why cleartrip rates are 5-10% expensive than airline fares... Ixigo.com and Yahoo Fairchase (http://in.farechase.yahoo.com/) seem to give exact fares from airline websites.

Similar: Caution about Super markets * Hyderabad-Bangalore-Chennai by bus * My Kingfisher Experience * Fly for free on Indigo

20 comments :

sai thilak said...

Thats good to know this info. I am wondering when there will be a repeat of Air Deccan/Gopinath in years to come.... Guess it will never return!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Thilak,

You never know...

Sid said...

@nidhi...i was aware of this since a long time, but I dint have a blog to make people aware about it ;). So...kudos to you :D

besides this, there is one more sick thing about these websites. They charge an additional Rs.250 as the cancellation charge on top of what the actual airline charges you. This is highly intolerable. So, the best thing to do is to book directly from the airline website as you said.

As you suggested, I just use these websites to see which airline is offering the cheapest flight and then book from the airline's own website.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sid.

Why dont you start your own blog? It is never too late...

Mohan said...

I can't agree more. However, before you blindly go on to book tickets on the respective airlines website, take a look at this Yahoo! site for air fares (This is the only site that indicates the ticket price inclusive of tax) - http://in.farechase.yahoo.com/

Once you decide on your flight, it lets to to book tickets directly from the airlines site itself. Otherwise as well, you can go to airlines website and book your tickets. I have been using this for over 2 years and I am very happy with the farechase site unlike other site that has lot of hidden taxes.

Sid said...

@nidhi...welcome :D I will consider starting a blog

@mohan....absolutely right there.even i have been using this farechase since a long time. its the best one and doesn't con you like others.

one other thing to be noted is insurance. these websites club the travel insurance along with the fare whenever you book an air deccan ticket. On the other hand, if you book the ticket from deccan's website then you have the option to cancel the insurance if you'd like. You save an additional 99! :D

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Mohan,

Thanks 4 sharing that.

But I believe all sites show full price (including tax) though in ads they say "Fly at Rs 99"

@Sid. Thanks for that extra info...

hari said...

Air travel sucks

Airline companies suck

Planes suck

Trains rule.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hari...

Welcome back..you're commenting after a long time...

But you're generalizing...unless the distance is short enough to be covered by overnight journey, most of the middleclass is preferring low cost airlines...

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is definitely a generalization. The cost of 2 tier AC seat to Delhi from Bangalore is around 2400 bucks. I'd rather pay 3.5 k to a low cost airline and reach Delhi the same day. it takes close to 36 hours via train if I'm not wrong.

SeeC said...

Very true. Its applicable for international airlines too. It is advisable to use the travel websites to just get the cheapest airline and book directly from airline's website.
Do you know that the person seated next to you in the flight would not have paid the same amount as you. Though it may be the same class/cabin. It all depends on ticket source, time you buy etc.

This is not the case with Train travel.

Never go with advertisements. It is just to attract people (and ofcourse for business). Do compare different sites before you book, unless otherwise your trip is unplanned.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Anon: Exactly...Even airports are getting crowded like railway stattions because of this..

@SeeC

Thanks for confirming that it is same with international airlines.

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steily said...

Your blog is very much good. I am very much impressed by your blog content; I also come across number of sites for the Travel for the Cheap Airfare and Airline Tickets, you can also check these are also very much useful for everyone.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Steily

Thanks. I've already mentioned few such sites. You've anything else in mind?

Jhon Smith said...

This story is very useful. Really I like it. Thanks for sharing with us..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ John Smith

Welcome.

Anonymous said...

Love the main page. Will it always be like this?

Riya BC said...

thanks for sharing this air ticket information