Gone are the days when you had to visit your travel agent to book a ticket. Nowadays there are hot deals offered by airlines online and you don’t have to get stuck in a heavy traffic just to get to your travel agent. In a situation where you have spent the whole day working and you are very tired and not sure if you still have the energy to rush to your travel agent, just sign on to your laptop or tablet and within a few clicks you have already made your reservations. However fast, this methods comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
1. Convenience: This is hassle free since you can book a ticket from the comfort of your house, wherever you are and at any time of the day without having to go to the travel agency. All you need is a computer and internet access. You save time since you won’t look for a parking spot or wait for service. After a few days you have your ticket ready to be collected.
2. Prices: When you book online you have the freedom to shop around for prices before you make a choice, whereas when you book via a travel agent you have only one option- the one he recommends. Some airlines have online only fares since they rely on automation rather than manpower to do the job, thus reducing cost.
3. Cancellations and changes: Cancelling or making a change in the ticket or a class upgrade is very simple when you book online, all you have to do is go directly to the airline’s website and log-in with your booking information. It’s easy and sometimes even free.
4. Security: When you make a reservation online, the essential information is collected over a secure connection, while when you book via a travel agent you give sensitive information like your credit card details to a total stranger and you might even be required to pay an upfront deposit.
5. Speed: When you make an online booking you can confirm in seconds whether the dates and the seats you prefer are available. If you have to use a travel agent you might have to go through a long process and might even be put on hold for quite some time.
6. Early check-ins: International travelers are able to check in between two and twenty four hours before the flight and print the boarding pass from home. Some airlines even offer mobile check-in options: having your boarding pass bar code sent directly to your mobile phone. You’ll be able to save a lot of time by checking in online.
7. Control: Online booking allows clients to see all possible flight arrangements first hand, select a specific seat, request meals and even search for the lowest fare.
8. Confirmation: While you book online, you are satisfied to know the reservation was correctly made whereas when you use a travel agent, you are given a confirmation number so you really have no way of knowing if the reservation was made correctly or if it was made at all.
9. Customization: When you book online you can easily handle a complicated itinerary that combines several transportation means.
10. Time saving: It is safer to book online if you are ready to go on a trip and don’t have time to visit your travel agent or the airline. This will give you more time to prepare on your luggage and when looking for accommodation for your discount flights.
1. Cost: When booking online there are taxes and fees that you are required to pay, so you might end up paying more than you do when visiting your travel agency. The taxes that apply can be found on your airlines website.
2. Credit card security: When you use use your credit or debit card for transactions, you give information that others might use to their advantage and you could end up becoming a victim of identity theft. That however can be avoided by having passwords and secure log-ins from your bank
3. Special Needs: You cannot confirm immediately any special requests at the time of your online reservation, such as requesting a wheelchair, special meals or adding an infant to your plane ticket.
4. Hidden Fees: Some online travel sites will advertise for low rates usually to get your attention and then add fees and surcharges for a much less competitive deal so you end up paying more.
5. Help: When you book online, you have no one to address your questions about flight routes, connections, visa requirements or anything else you’re concerned about.
6. Limited validity: The bargain rates that make booking online appear so attractive often mean giving up flexibility in your dates of travel or other such constraints. For example, when booking a flight, you will sometimes be able to choose only a specific day of travel, class of service and class of hotel.
7. Lack of knowledge:Online booking will rarely give you the knowledge you need about the service you are booking. In some cases, you may find testimonials on a website, but you can never be sure if they are real testimonials or paid advertisements.
8. Personal relationship: However convenient the online booking is, it does not allow you to have a personal relationship like you might with your travel agent. Sometimes this relationship might allow you to get a booking when none are available online or to receive a free upgrade.
9. Real time: Many operators who allow you to book online do not offer real time booking. If you are booking your trip on short notice, it is much easier to talk and receive immediate confirmation via the telephone.
10. Seat reservation: Check the website of the airline of your choice for seat reservation and online check-in of your luggage. This way, you don’t have to rush all the way to the airport when flight day comes.
There are advantages and disadvantages to online booking, it just depends on what perks you’re looking for at the moment of your booking. Some people prefer to take action themselves and book online, others prefer to let other people take care of the details of their trips. Whatever category you might fit in, it’s good to have a list of pros and cons to help you decide.