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Pitfalls of booking my own flights

(31 Posts)
Howjado Tue 03-May-16 10:17:25

I have a big birthday this year and am thinking of visiting my sister in Britsh Colombia. I am looking at flights on the internet but wary of pitfalls. For instance, if I book one leg of the journey with one airline but the connecting flight is with another airline, I suppose I might have to change terminals? Also some of these flights seem very cheap. £174 to fly from one side of Canada to the other. What am I missing? Do travel agents charge a lot to book these flights, does anybody know?

Grannyknot Tue 03-May-16 12:19:13

As far as I know travel agent fees are paid by the airlines and other travel operators so their service is free to the end user (you).

I made an error booking flights once because I had looked at so many that I war cross-eyed. I'd go to a travel agent if I were you. I think one of the few left on the high street is Flight Centre.

Enjoy your holiday smile

Grannyknot Tue 03-May-16 12:19:57

Was not war!

obieone Tue 03-May-16 12:30:05

If I remember correctly, flying from one side of Canada to the other is not wildly expensive, as it is internal.

And flights to Canada seem to be coming down in price generally. More airlines are flying there.

The exchange rate between here and Canada has altered a lot too. Though I have no idea which way that works in regards to prices.

Jalima Tue 03-May-16 12:42:16

I have booked our flights online many times.
However, I must admit to a degree of nervousness and check and double check before I press 'pay' and make DH go through it with me before I commit.
So I think if you are concerned about it, Howjado, you'd be best going to a travel agent - they should be able to get you a good deal too.

Have a good trip!

Grannaby Tue 03-May-16 13:11:26

We used Flight Centre for our big trip to New Zealand via Sidney a few years ago. They certainly took all the hassle out of it. BUT I made a big mistake. Before she made the final booking she showed us a print out of our itinerary which was quite complicated. I went carefully through it all to make sure it was correct and all was fine. I did notice at the time that she had spelt my first name wrong - it's a common mistake and I felt it was petty to correct her. Big whoops. I had forgotten that names have to be written exactly as the name on your passport. We were then in a bit of a dilemma: should we contact the airline and get them to change the ticket at a silly sum or hope no one at the airports would notice. They probably wouldn't have, but we played safe in the end. Flight centre did pay a little towards the cost I seem to remember as she hadn't drawn my attention to that part of the document. So always check every little detail when someone else is doing it on your behalf.

But that said - how exciting for you, have a great trip. envy

Izabella Tue 03-May-16 18:55:22

I rarely book my own flights as my trips are often to weird places plus complex itineraries. I always use Trailfinders. Brilliant service. They also often come up with alternative routings that are much better than the thoughts in my own head.

Have a great trip.

Coolgran65 Tue 03-May-16 19:41:10

I look on line and find the best price or long haul with one connection. Then go to the local co-op travel where they often match the price. They often can make a valuable suggestion and are there if I later have a question.

Also if your entire journey is on the one ticket this can provide benefits such as booking your luggage directly through to the destination even if different airlines are used. Also is easier should a first flight be late for a connection. And you pay only once for an extra case I.e. not for both flights as you would if they are booked separately.

I like to have the back up of an ATOL registered travel agent.

Jalima Tue 03-May-16 19:43:55

Also if your entire journey is on the one ticket this can provide benefits such as booking your luggage directly through to the destination even if different airlines are used.

That is a good point; the travel agent could also book connections if you have to change airports too.

ElaineI Tue 03-May-16 21:13:53

I remember last year I think, on the news, a lady thought she was on her way to Granada in Spain and was chatting to the person sitting beside her and realised she was on her way to Grenada in the Caribbean. The airline were helpful and flew her back so she could catch the correct flight! I think it depends on how computer savvy you are and how confident. DH is good at this but I would be a bit nervous .

Humbertbear Wed 04-May-16 10:56:27

If your connecting flight is with a different airline no one has responsibility for you. For example, I had two connecting flights on Continental. The first one arrive PhD late at Houston but before I even left the plane I was handed a ticket for a later connecting flight. If the second plane had been with a different airline I would have had to make my own arrangements.
Regarding Jalima's comment, if you change planes you have to go through immigration at your first place of call, collect your luggage and then hand it back in as you leave baggage reclaim. I have had to do this in both USA and China so think it applies everywhere. If you have bought anything in duty free, remember to stick it in your case before you hand it back in.
Travel safe and have fun.

JackyB Wed 04-May-16 11:34:41

If you're flying to Vancouver, I would go for a direct flight.

Unless you really want to spend a few days looking at Toronto/Niagara Falls/Ottawa/whales, the hassle of stopover is surely a horrific waste of time and nerves, even if the direct flight is slightly dearer.

Inland flights in North America are reputedly very cheap.

rozina Wed 04-May-16 11:45:36

Hi Howjado

I always use Flight Centre, worth spending the extra and they will produce an itinerary for you.

Rosie72 Wed 04-May-16 11:49:03

I always book my flights online making sure that I go with an aircraft of that country or at least a connecting one on a long haul having booked a through flight. I have never had any trouble at all maybe I am lucky
After watching the programme about Flight Centre I would be so reluctant to book with them.

Stella14 Wed 04-May-16 12:13:18

Trailfinders can always get the best prices available from the airlines. Other 'lower prices' are simply the headline figure before the extra charges. It's easy to end up paying more than you would if you went to a trust worthy company. I have been using Trailfinders for over 20 years. I am pretty savvy about travel, but their people (who are extremely well trained and well travelled) invariably tell me something useful that I didn't know. They will be able to sort out your transatlantic and internal flights.

Stella14 Wed 04-May-16 12:16:55

Rozina - I assume that you did not see the investigation by Channel 4 dispatches on Flight Centre. They charge what they think you will pay based upon your responses. Their staff are under severe pressure to meet targets. This is something about it.

David1968 Wed 04-May-16 13:32:33

Like Stella, I cannot speak highly enough of Trailfinders. Last year DH and I used them (Manchester branch) to plan/book a three-month-around-the-world-trip and they were brilliant. The price they quote is the price you pay, with no nonsense and no extras. We've always found the staff to be professional, knowledgeable, patient, understanding, and courteous. They will answer any questions and deal with your concerns. (And no, we don't work for Trailfinders or have any connection with them, other than as customers!) Unlike some of the major airlines (e.g. American Airlines), Trailfinders will accept payment by credit cards with no extra charges. They are ABTA registered, so you can book with confidence. You can phone them, chat, ask for a quote, then go away and think about it - no pressure to buy or to commit. Our only child (and family) live in California, so we fly over there nearly every year. We used to book our own flights, but it has become such a hassle that we don't do this now - we find that it's well worth asking for help from an experienced and reputable service like Trailfinders. (And a lot less stressful!)

missdeke Wed 04-May-16 13:33:41

When I took 2 of my kids to Oz for 5 weeks I was tempted to book it all myself but chickened out and got a travel agent to sort out my complicated itinerary. She found that if I chose a more expensive flight out (Quantas) I got all my internal flights free saving me far more than I thought I was saving by booking myself with oojimaflip airways! Definitely best to go with an agent if there is any chance that things might go awry.

Howjado Wed 04-May-16 14:17:01

Thanks for all you comments and thoughts Grans. I have just checked and there is a Trailfinders in my nearest town. That is where I am heading next.

Thingmajig Wed 04-May-16 14:37:55

I used to be back and forward to Copenhagen/Aarhus when DH was still working and always booked online. Once I managed to misspell my surname and of course it was picked up at check-in. Luckily the girl assumed it was their fault and I was able to fly! grin

Every letter is double/triple checked now.

David1968 Wed 04-May-16 14:39:34

Great ! But please remember that you don't need to go to Trailfinders in person. (We never have!) You can do absolutely everything on the phone. And they have a helpful website. Good luck!

seemercloud Wed 04-May-16 16:49:33

gosh. Thank you Howjado for posting this question. I also have a sister in BC (Victoria) who I'm thinking of visiting, next Spring. I've read all the responses. How helpful everyone has been. Thank you all.

TriciaF Wed 04-May-16 18:05:14

I have two cousins in Canada - both have been there a long time . (1960s)
They visit UK and all over the world quite often.
I could ask them how they do it if you need.

chrissyh Wed 04-May-16 22:35:15

Friends of mine use a company called Trailfinders. Their travel plans are usually quite complex and they thoroughly recommend them. Also, they are always careful to get a bargain so I think they must be value for money.

chrisw Thu 05-May-16 08:06:15

I would recommend Trailfinders too. They are also endorsed by 'Which'. Enjoy your holiday.