Home TravelOpinion Ticket brokers and Skyscanner: what to expect, risks & tips for booking your flight ticket

Ticket brokers and Skyscanner: what to expect, risks & tips for booking your flight ticket

by Flitter Fever
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Skyscanner and other flight ticket search engines like Momondo and Google Flights are useful tools to search for the best flight possibilities. Comparing dates, destinations and search for the lowest prices. Because who wants to pay too much for a flight? These flight ticket search engines usually link to ticket brokers websites, where you can actually buy the ticket that you saw offered on the comparison site. In this article I will tell you all about it: what to expect, what to be aware of (risks) and some flight ticket purchasing tips.

Be careful on comparing – figuratively speaking – apples and oranges, especially if you do not understand the difference between the two, which lies in the details.

Warning: this is going to be a long, detailed article, but hopefully a valuable eye opener to avoid stupid decisions based on unfair comparison that may harm your wallet and night rest if shit hits the fan.

Sunrays through the clouds flight
Who doesn’t love flying cheap? (photo credits Tom Barrett)

Purchasing flight tickets

The moment is finally there, your boss approved your holiday request, time to book that trip! So what do you do? Where do you go to book a flight ticket? There are several ways, the most common:

  1. Direct with the airline itself
  2. Ticket brokers online
  3. Travel agency

Many people start their search by Googling flight ticket prices. Successful flight ticket search engines like Skyscanner pop up. With millions of visitors a day they can afford to invest to stay on top of the search results in Google. And hey, I use Skyscanner a lot too. Heck, in many articles on this website I recommend using Skyscanner to search for flight possibilities. Nothing wrong with looking and checking! I am definitely not against Skyscanner. But then comes the moment when you really want to purchase that flight ticket – what do you do? What is wise?

Online vs. travel agent

With millions of web shops just a click on the internet away, as consumers we got spoiled. We are used to the speed and ease of purchasing online. So why not flight tickets? The rush of buying something is an extremely interesting neurological process, one that can be addictive even (shopaholic). And now that we have our dear friend Dr. Google, we can sort it all out by ourselves, right? Because we do not want to pay too much.

I think travel agents suffer from this. Nowadays booking with a travel agent is considered by many as old-fashioned and dumb. Compared to booking online, it requires patience and waiting much longer for the actual booking confirmation. I can (and will) write a whole article about why that thought is foolish, but let’s stick to the topic for now. Most travel agents prefer to book total package deals for their clients, not only flight tickets. While you might still be orienting on what you exactly want to do there. But as long as you’ve got that cheap flight ticket booked, everything will be fine, right?

Google on computer screen
Most people Google to find cheap flights nowadays (photo credits Christian Wiediger)

Search engines

So you end up in the web of online flight ticket providers. Surfing, scrolling, clicking, sorting things out. Skyscanner, Momondo (part of Booking.com) and Kayak are some of the most popular flight comparison websites. They make our lives much easier by collecting prices for flight tickets from most airlines and ticket broker sites and presenting them in one overview based on your search and filters. How handy is that? Sorting out the available flight possibilities within your criteria is only a few clicks away!

Flight ticket prices can differ per platform, route, date of departure, etc. so worth checking. The flight numbers are usually the same, although conditions may vary on detail (those small letters almost no-one reads or understands). The providers that pop up on the different search platforms are more or less the same too: eDreams, Supersaver, Opodo, Gate 1, Kiwi, Travelgenio, etc. And hey some offers come direct from airlines too. Part of those flight ticket search engines are immediately clear who offers the price (Momondo, Kayak) while others (Skyscanner) only shows this detail when you click further.

Flight ticket search results on Momondo
The ticket broker’s name is mentioned under the price at Momondo

What is Skyscanner?

Skyscanner is a flight search engine, or price comparison website, whatever you want to call it. The Skyscanner headquarters is located in Edinburgh, UK. The site receives more than a 100 million visitors per month! Not kidding. Skyscanner does not only show flight possibilities, it can also be used to compare hotels and rental cars. In most cases, Skyscanner functions as the middle man who leads an interested searcher to a platform where they can really book the flight offered, usually an airline or ticket broker, for which they doubtlessly receive commission (which is not bad on itself!).

It’s clearly popular so why do people use Skyscanner? Some notable reasons:

  • Compare flight ticket prices over 1200 airlines and ticket brokers in one easy, quick overview.
  • Input to make a whole schedule of dates you are able to fly to find the cheapest option.
  • Option to enter ‘everywhere’ and the engine will find the best offers to all destinations.
  • Keep track of price development for a certain travel date with Skyscanner price alarm by email.
Skyscanner search results
Search results of flight ticket offerings on Skyscanner

What is a ticket broker?

In general a ticket broker, also known as ticket agent, is an intermediary, for the sales of flight tickets of airlines to consumers, in a fast and easy way. eDreams, Supersaver, Opodo, Gate 1, Mytrip, Tripsta, Bravofly, Tripair, etc. are all international online ticket brokers that may appear in your search results of Google or any flight ticket comparison website. In The Netherlands, popular ticket broker websites are for instance Cheaptickets, Tix.nl, Vliegwinkel.nl, WTC.nl, BudgetAir and Gate 1.

So how come they can offer tickets cheaper than travel agents and airlines? Compared to travel agents, I am actually not sure whether setting up and maintaining such broker website is cheaper than having a group of physical travel agency offices. Those IT guys cost money too, especially if you want to stay on top of the online game.

However, if those online ticket brokers do what they are good at, lowering the bar to make it easy and fast for consumers to book a flight online, potentially it can bring in a lot of money. Simply keep the organization as lean as possible in order to keep the flight ticket prices as sharp as possible. But at what cost? I just feel they do not contribute to the reputation of the travel business with their poor service. Later more about the disadvantages of booking flights with ticket brokers.

Some wise person once told me: when something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Ticket broker disadvantages

Many articles can be found online about the benefits of flight ticket search engines like Skyscanner and how to fly as cheap as possible, but rarely anyone mentions the downsides and the risks for you as a consumer. Now many people discover with Corona (COVID-19) that their low price ticket is not so great. Low prices, low service. Or no service at all. This is not how ticket brokers are set up. They are set up to sell you something fast and easy, that’s it. Do not expect any or much post-sale service, that’s not their priority nor business model nowadays (it used to be better 10-20 years ago).

Flight ticket search engines like Skyscanner connect to different ticket broker websites. After clicking further to the ticket broker’s website, in many cases issues occur, such as:

  • The ticket is no longer available
  • The ticket price is higher than mentioned on Skyscanner
  • Additional costs come on top during the booking process
  • Conditions are not clear and/or less fortunate than direct with an airline or travel agency

Skyscanner offers the possibility to let them know them when a ticket broker’s price turns out to be more expensive than offered on Skyscanner. This is nice, however this option appears rather quickly after clicking further; before you really know all the details behind the broker’s offer and uncovered any potential hidden costs.

It is all about the money with ticket brokers
It’s all about the money (photo credits Alexander Mils)

Hidden costs

If you are mostly interested about price, the additional costs will be your biggest worry. Some examples extra costs online ticket brokers may come up with during the booking process online or you may find out about post-booking:

  • Baggage fee or no option to add check-in baggage at all
  • Reservation and/or administration fee
  • Payment costs (for example 4% extra when paid by credit card)
  • Seat reservation costs
  • Food and/or drink service
  • Extra costs if you want post-sale service

Now that sounds pretty shitty, right? Do you feel misleaded already? Of course, booking via a ticket broker website can go many ways. If the cheap flight is actually available, you can ignore all the extra options offered and no or a low booking and/or payment fee is charged, you might be lucky. If post-sales everything goes right… Wait until you need to contact them if something goes wrong!

Some flight ticket booking websites do not charge any booking fees, like Expedia and Kilroy. The offer price is also the final price. Most ticket broker websites do charge EUR 15-39 euros booking costs. With some ticket brokers, the further you go into the booking process, the lower the booking costs become. Strange! When you book a flight directly with the airline the booking fee is often between EUR 0-20. With a travel agent the booking fee in The Netherlands is around EUR 35 (their commission on a flight ticket alone is EUR 0).

And then we did not mention the extra costs (and time) yet that you might have to spend to reach the cheaper airport, especially if departure is outside of the regular public transportation hours. Parking at airports and taxis are quite expensive. So better take that into account as well when making the total costs calculation prior to booking.

Post-sale contact

So you purchased a flight ticket. Let’s have a look at situations when you would need to contact the ticket seller. Usually those are the unfortunate situations you usually want to avoid. Some examples:

  • You did not receive a booking confirmation but did pay.
  • Payment has been processed twice.
  • You did not receive your e-ticket by email yet.
  • There is a typo in your name mentioned on your e-ticket.
  • You want to know the latest status of your flight.
  • You wish to cancel your flight due to Corona.
  • Questions about your voucher or refund due to Corona.
  • Your flight changed but you don’t want to accept it.

The company that sold you the ticket will be your first point of contact. So did you buy your ticket with a ticket broker’s website, direct with an airline or from a travel agency? That’s the company which you should contact by phone or email in situations like listed above. When in doubt, always immediately contact the ticket broker or travel agency. Good luck with reaching that broker.

Cannot reach the flight ticket broker about a voucher or refund for a cancelled flight due to Corona? Contact the airline directly online and/or consult your legal assistance insurance.

Guy calling on a outdoor wall phone in Cuba
You get to know a company when you need to contact them (photo credits Guille Alvarez)

Accessibility

I won’t mention the name of the particular broker, but someone wrote about their customer experience post-booking the following:

  • The customer service is difficult to reach by phone and costs EUR 0.70 per minute.
  • When you fill in the contact form, there is a minimum waiting period of 3 weeks.
  • It even takes 5 weeks to reply to an email!

And a post on my Facebook timeline this morning:

Just received an email from <name broker> that our return flight has been adjusted for <date> to a flight with stop-over of 40 hours instead of 3 hours. The email says if I do not respond, the change will be processed as accepted. I tried to contact them but no-one picks up. What can I do?

Or Iris’s experience a few weeks ago:

I had also booked through <name broker> to the United States and was told a week and a half before departure that the airline had canceled my flight. <Name broker> promised to review my options, whether I could get a refund or voucher. Not heard anything since. On their website it says that this procedure will take at least 4 months because they are so busy, but probably even longer. I am so done with this bullshit.

Of course it will also take time for any broker to get information back from the airline in case of a flight change for example, but communication to you as a customer is key and usually lacking with ticket brokers. Recently a ticket broker I shall not mention by name here was discussed on Dutch television. They promised to have answered all questions of March by the end of June… Right. Excellent service! Another lady wondered where her refund of a cancelled flight would go to from the airline: the broker or her. Who paid the airline again? Shit.

Ticket brokers are often hard to reach by phone
Some companies find it hard to pick up the phone (photo credits Louis Hansel)

Hard to reach

These are just a few examples. On a daily basis I see posts on social media or on Tripadvisor of people who booked a flight ticket on a ticket broker’s website and they cannot reach them while they have an issue and/or question(s). Customer dissatisfaction all over the place. Although now with Corona we are in an exceptional situation, the true nature of ticket broker sites is: low prices, low service. Or in many cases, no service at all. Something I knew for years, but now many people find out in a nasty way. With this article I would like to prevent you to have such disappointing experience. Holidays should be fun. Or at least purchase with ticket brokers with the right expectations.

You may be lucky but it is a gamble. When shit hits the fan. I usually prefer to book via a travel agency or otherwise direct with the airline. Trust me, you will get a lot more service with a professional travel agent. And contrary what a lot of people think, the price will be the same, sometimes even cheaper. If more expensive then usually the conditions are a lot better. At least you can reach them and always ask for support. That’s their job, let them do the work and use their expertise and contacts. A well-spent EUR 35 booking fee if you’re asking me.

The bottom line is: ticket brokers often provide poor customer service and ticket conditions are often unclear. Therefore I would recommend to avoid online ticket brokers for flight tickets.

Consumer protection

All ticket brokers and other partners that are offering flights on price comparison sites like Skyscanner, Momondo, etc. for sure must meet certain criteria, need to sign a contract, etc. However, whether those criteria are in line with your interests and what you value as a consumer, in other words what you would be willing to pay for if you would realize the details, is the question. Often people only discover those details when an issue occurs. Smart and experienced bookers may get a gut feeling during the booking process already.

Besides bad service and hidden costs there are two other things travelers should be protected against, especially financially, which are usually not covered by your travel insurance:

  1. Bankruptcy of airline, accommodation, car rental company, etc.
  2. Calamities during the trip such as a natural disaster or break out of violent riots for example
Ticket brokers will not be of much help when a hurricane hit your vacation
What if a hurricane hits your vacation? (photo credits John Middelkoop)

The Dutch way

I realize that in several countries there will be nothing available to be protected against the financial risks of calamities and bankruptcy of the travel company. However, in The Netherlands, we have:

  • Travel Refund Guarantee Fund (SGR) to cover any advance payments made if a travel company is no longer able to meet its financial obligations, such as bankruptcy.
  • Calamity Fund for Travelers (Calamiteitenfonds Reizen) to protect travelers against extra costs due to calamities that occur during the trip, like a natural disaster or violent riots

Careful: only when flight tickets are purchased as part of a package trip (pakketreis) or composed travel arrangement (samengestelde reis) the SGR and Calamity Fund coverages are applicable, not if the tickets are purchased separately! The package can be as minimum as a return flight and the first and last night’s accommodation (starters package). To conclude, on a broker’s website that sells and/or where you buy flight tickets only and advertises to be a member of SGR, it is worthless.

The Dutch Calamity Fund for Travelers covers calamities that make it necessary to change your travel plans or even return back home earlier than planned. The Calamity Fund is valid when paid for upon booking (EUR 2.50) and only for trips that have started already (not beforehand).

In the UK there is for example ATOL that provides travelers a refund for air based holiday packages if the travel company goes out of business.

Avoiding risks

In addition to the above mentioned, there are more and other ways to protect yourself from flight ticket related risks:

  1. Make sure you have a travel insurance and know the conditions in detail
  2. Flight ticket insurance or guarantee
  3. Pay flight tickets online by credit card (purchases are insured)
  4. Check for labels like ATOL, IATA, etc. for Dutch: ANVR, SGR, Calamity Fund
  5. Google the broker’s website name, the airline and read the reviews for a reputation check
  6. Book with a reliable travel agent that will support you
  7. If booked individually, book as flexible as possible (date change at no or low costs f.e.)
  8. Do not book flights to areas with a negative travel advice as set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

If you booked a flight ticket only, regardless whether you bought it via an online ticket broker or a travel agency, it covers any potential bankruptcy of the ticket broker or the travel agency you booked with only, not of the airline! Bankruptcy of an airline is only covered by SGR if you bought the flight ticket as part of a package deal (pakketreis, SGR member company) or if you bought flight ticket insurance.

The flight ticket insurance or guarantee seems to be a Dutch invention as I have not seen anything similar on international flight ticket broker websites (yet). It protects travelers with individually booked flight tickets against losing their money as a result of an airline’s bankruptcy. It costs between 4 and 21 euro per ticket and covers EUR 1500 to 2000 per booking. The risk of airlines going bankrupt increased since Corona.

Dutch passport and Korean Air flight ticket
Get ready to fly

Dutch ticket brokers

Most of the online ticket brokers that are popular in The Netherlands are in the hands of a few big groups: Otravo, Travix and Uniglobe Delta Travel. Part of their websites are connected with ANVR and SGR, part is not, so something to be aware of. None of them is a member of the Calamity Fund.

  • Otravo’s flight ticket broker websites WorldTicketCenter.nl (WTC), Vliegtickets.nl and Vakantiediscounter.nl are member of ANVR. Their other flight ticket broker websites like Travel2be.com, Travelgenio.com, Vliegtickets.be, Flystolen.se, Tripmonster.no and Greitai.lt are NOT.
  • Travix owns a number of popular flight ticket broker websites as well. CheapTickets.nl, BudgetAir.nl and Vliegwinkel.nl are members of ANVR and SGR. Vayama and Flugladen.de are also part of Travix but do NOT have SGR and ANVR registrations, thus people who book on those two sites do not benefit that protection.
  • Uniglobe Delta Travel owns Tix.nl, Tix.be and Gate1.nl. All three of these ticket brokers are NOT a member of SGR and ANVR.

These ticket brokers often appear in the search results of flight ticket search websites like Skyscanner. Check here whether a website that offers flight tickets is a member of SGR or not. But as mentioned before, if you buy only a flight ticket, SGR will not give you much security as it’s applicable for package trips only.

Two international ticket broker websites that are popular among Dutch travelers too are Expedia and Kiwi. Expedia is an American company, Kiwi registered in the Czech Republic. Expedia does have ANVR and SGR membership, not the Calamity Fund but their own Expedia Guarantee Plan, see also my Partner page. Kiwi has Kiwi.com Guarantee to cover delayed or cancelled flights.

Got it all

Some of the most reliable Dutch flight ticket booking sites, tour operators and travel agents are members of all three: branch organization ANVR, SGR and the Calamity Fund. You may expect this from big tour operators and travel agencies such as:

  • TUI sells flight tickets but also complete packaging trips and even has its own aircrafts. TUI sometimes appears in Skyscanner results.
  • Kilroy has the reputation of being a backpackers’ travel agency with special discounts for students. Kilroy has offices in Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen and Utrecht, and often appears in flight ticket search results of Skyscanner. If you’d compare all travel agencies in The Netherlands Kilroy is not top of the bill (quality wise), but one of the few that will appear on Skyscanner results. If you’d have to choose between an online ticket broker or Kilroy, I’d know what to do.
  • Travel Counsellors is a group of professional travel advisors with 24/7 accessibility that sells package trips. My travel agent Jennie Visser works under the umbrella of Travel Counsellors, providing any extra support 24/7. A travel agency like Travel Counsellors will not appear in your Skyscanner results (it’s not an online ticket broker) but they can definitely book flights for you (as part of any type of package) and may expect excellent customer service.

Price strategy

There are not many products where pricing is as non-transparent and variable as flight ticket prices. It’s like a big black magic box. People want to unravel the mystery. The price of a flight ticket does not only depend on the time, destination and time of purchase. Even the fare for the exact same flight with the same carrier can vary from hour to hour and can differ per purchasing platform too. It is a maze, an intriguing game for some fanatics. Apparently the average person spends about 40 hours on searching online every single holiday before booking!

It is no surprise that people want to get their flight tickets as cheap as possible. Commercials of airlines, tour operators and ticket brokers push the low prices in your face. A gazillion bloggers claim to have the best tips to fly as cheap as possible, often parroting each other. This is how we all end up thinking Tuesday is the best day to book a cheap flight for example. Nonsense. Of course price is important, I would lie if I’d say it isn’t. But I do believe that what people are willing to pay highly depends on understanding the value. This lies in the details and what you find important, your needs, also in the worst case scenario. But who reads the small letters when purchasing a flight ticket online these days?

The truth is, in reality we are more influenced followers than we want ourselves to be. Unconscious emotional behavior plays a huge role in a buying process. The big travel money makers know that post-purchase, people are often more willing to spend more money. 15 EUR for a seat reservarion? Well yes, we want to sit together, after all we’re going on holidays! This is the business model of low cost carriers like Ryan Air and Easy Jet. Keep the initial ticket price low and then try to tempt the ticket buyer to pay for extras between booking and disembarking. Only the diehard budget travelers shall resist. It’s not that I never fly with low cost carriers, just trying to make clear there is more strategy behind low prices than one may initially think/see.

Browsing ticket brokers for cheap flight tickets
Searching online for cheap flights is tiring (photo credits Bruno Cervera)

Relatively cheap

Do you want to fly cheap? But what is cheap actually? I mentioned the word in this article a few times too. But what’s perceived as cheap is relative and subjective. It highly depends on your income, budget, standards, what you are used to in terms of comfort and luxury, location, destination, etc. Yeah that flight from Brussels or Dusseldorf may be cheaper than from Amsterdam Schiphol airport, but if you live in or near Amsterdam it saves a lot of time and money for train or parking if you fly from Schiphol! Is the hassle and extra costs to reach that other airport really worth the ‘cheap flight ticket’?

Not to mention the cattle class treatment you get with some of those low cost carriers. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo we flew for EUR 50 cheaper to London! But hey we were treated like shit, my legs get cramps from sitting stuck with my knees for a few hours and I had to get up at 3am to catch the flight. Had to pay for parking at the airport too because the train did not go that early. Just saying: cheap vs. value are relative and subjective as hell. Be careful.

It’s in the details

Things may also look cheaper than they actually are, once you have the full picture and read/understand the small letters. Like for example the hidden costs mentioned earlier in this article. The conditions of tickets vary strongly, for example luggage, cancellation policy, etc. This can also make a huge difference and with regards to luggage lead to expensive charges should you want to add it after all (because you did not know it was excluded or cannot travel light).

So you will have to know the details in order to understand the real value of a price offer. If one ticket is EUR 20 less but after all you will have to pay EUR 50 for a suitcase for each leg for example, you may end up at the same or a lot higher total price than that other flight ticket offered by a reliable travel company, with perhaps also extra consumer protection (SGR etc.) and real customer service. Food for thought.

Easy Jet aircraft
EasyJet entices travelers with low prices

Flight ticket saving tips

When you book and when you will fly are two major factors that will influence your chances of flying advantageously. Want to avoid spending too much money for a flight ticket? Here are my tips.

  1. Be as data flexible as possible, more flexibility = bigger chance for getting the lowest price.
  2. If you want to fly real cheap, let the destination and date depend on the available offers.
  3. Avoid high seasons and peaks, try to fly out of kids’ school holidays etc. as much as possible.
  4. Check various platforms, dates, airports, airlines and set a price alarm on Skyscanner.
  5. If you are fixed on certain dates or Christmas holidays for example, try to book as soon as the tickets are released (this can be 6-12 months ahead).
  6. If you do a round trip through let’s say Argentina or Asia with multiple stops, not rarely buying one ticket including all legs saves money. Check with a travel agent for special tickets.
  7. For seat reservation I would recommend not to pay for it, as often offered during the booking process, unless you are a big family or group that insists to sit together for 200% sure. Just check-in as soon as the check-in opens (usually 36 or 24 hours before departure) and select your seats. The choice of seats may be bigger upon booking than check-in but is it really worth EUR 15 per flight per seat more? That’s at least EUR 120 for a family of 4 return trip (EUR 240 with a stop-over)!
  8. Make a total picture of all travel costs involved (baggage/payment/booking fees, public transport or parking possibilities/costs, etc.) to compare options fairly to make the right choice.
  9. Sign up for free member of airline frequent flyer programs and try to fly with the same airline or at least alliance to benefit from the extras at some point such as free luggage.
  10. Don’t wait too long when you have seen a good price offer, that ticket may be gone soon.
  11. Travel agents are often able to hold on to a price offer for a few days before you need to finalize a booking.
  12. Travel light (preferably hand luggage only) and check-in online at home in time.
  13. Avoid overweight luggage fees by weighing it before leaving home and stay within the limit, also of the number of pieces you may carry on board (varies per airline and flyer status).

When in doubt on your next trip: ask a professional travel advisor. They have a lot of experience and expertise to help you make smart choices, are trained to uncover your needs, know what is available within your budget and know/understand the small letters and details of tickets. Travel advisors often arrange everything from A to Z for a few tens of euros admin costs and they will always have your back in case of questions or issues. For sure it saves hours of searching and stress. A highly underestimated and undervalued profession these days if you’re asking me.

Pay flight tickets online with your credit card, especially ticket brokers
Pay online by credit card (photo credits rupixen.com)

One trip, multiple tickets?

Not rarely I see the advice to buy two different tickets and fly with two different airlines to a destination with a stop-over. So for example you want to fly to Phuket from London. Instead of one ticket you decide to buy two tickets with two different airline because it is cheaper. So for example you buy one return ticket London-Bangkok-London and one return ticket Bangkok-Phuket-Bangkok. Together those two tickets could be cheaper than one return ticket London-Bangkok-Phuket-Bangkok-London.

But be aware of the risks of doing so. If the airline is different from those two tickets, especially if the airlines are a member of two different alliances, then you will have to get your luggage off the belt in Bangkok, get through customs, check-in your luggage with the other airline for the second part of your trip, go through security again, go to the gate, etc. A lot more time consuming and hassle than just going from one gate to another. Especially if the transfer airport is big and the waiting lines are long.

Transfer to other airport

Moreover if you realize that Bangkok has two airports (BKK and DMK) and you find out that you have to transfer from one airport to another to catch your second flight, shit! This will probably cause a lot of stress, hassle and extra costs (transport from one airport to another). If your first flight from London to Bangkok gets delayed, you may miss your connection to your final destination, Phuket!

  • If you bought the entire trip as one flight ticket with one airline or at least one alliance, your luggage will be labeled to your final destination at check-in. The airline will have to ensure you reach your final destination (if missing the connection was their fault).
  • Contrary, if you bought it as two flight tickets, especially if the flights are with two different airlines, moreover with two different alliances, if you miss the flight, you will be indicated as a no-show for the second flight/ticket and you will have to buy a new ticket yourself.

Therefore I would not advise doing this. It is only considerable if:

  • there is a lot of time in between the two flights (min 4 hours if transfer on same airport)
  • the transfer/connection is at the same airport as you arrived
  • it’s not the latest flight of that airline to your final destination that day
  • the airline flies frequently (preferably multiple times a day) to your final destination
  • the price difference is really high and worth the hassle/stress
  • short in advance before departure so not much can happen in between now and then (like a pandemic)
Is an airport change worth the stress
Is an airport change worth the stress? (photo credits Aaron Blanco Tejedor)

Single tickets

Be careful with buying single flight tickets, as often mentioned as a possibility to save money on flight tickets. Customs and authorities require Proof of Onward Travel (uitreisbewijs), to ensure you will leave the country again. This may be as simple as a cheap bus ticket or flexible, refundable flight ticket, as long as it is out of the country in time, such as the end date of your visa. If you only have a single flight ticket to get into the country and not out, when checked you have a problem. Whether or not you have a Proof of Onward Travel is not always checked upon entering a country. So you may have been lucky in the past by getting in without Proof of Onward Travel, but who wants to risk getting refused entry to a country?

What you could do, looking at the previous story about composing multiple tickets into one round trip, is book in advance on your way from (let’s take the same example) London to Bangkok as one single trip ticket with one airline, and the way back from Bangkok to London as a single trip ticket with another airline, if that’s cheaper together than one roundtrip ticket with one airline. But usually it is not.

One more example

Once I was stupid enough to buy two single tickets from Amsterdam to Reykjavik and Reykjavik to Amsterdam. A return ticket was the same total price, but in this way I could some frequent flyer points to pay for the first flight ticket from Amsterdam to Reykjavik. Sounds like a great deal, right? Until the airline decides to cancel the first flight. If this was one return ticket, I could claim a refund for the whole trip. Now I could not claim the first ticket as it was paid with frequent flyer miles, and the return flight is still scheduled to fly so unlikely to get my money back for that either. Lesson learned. Too much potential trouble.

To summarize

As long as nothing goes wrong, there is no problem booking a flight ticket with a broker. You get a cheap price. But as soon as something happens, for example the airline changes something or you have to change something, most ticket brokers have long waiting times and poor service. Airlines usually refer you back to the broker if that is where you booked your ticket. Unfortunately, today’s ticket brokers are no longer what ticket brokers used to be 10 or 20 years ago. In addition, keep in mind that there is often no luggage included with the cheapest tickets and the conditions are not flexible.

It is up to you what you choose: low price or service and flexibility. And should you decide to book with a broker, accept getting no service, make sure you pay by credit card, check the ticket conditions carefully and get a flight ticket guarantee insurance (if offered). If you want support and service in case something goes wrong, resist the temptation of cheap looking flights and skip the ticket brokers.

Are you going for price only or do you see the value of customer service? What are your experiences with ticket broker sites? Do you use Skyscanner to search for flight possibilities? I hope this article was an eye opener for you. Please share your comments or questions below. Happy holidays!

Last Updated on 08/26/2020 by Flitter Fever

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