Monday, June 25, 2007

Travel agents vs internet websites…

Travel planning is fun. You can spend hours reading magazines, pouring over brochures, scouring the internet for ideas on things to do, how to get there, and where to stay.

And then you head to the travel agent….which is usually also great fun. But this time, not so much.

So now I’m wondering - do I need a travel agent or should I just book everything myself over the internet ?

The flight plan the travel agent came up with had me en route for over 40 hours, heading off to places like Shanghei and Frankfurt on my way to Madrid.

My flight plan has me hopping over to Singapore for a couple of days, then continuing on to Paris…and catching the train to Madrid.

And this is only the first leg of the trip that will eventually take me to New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco and then home.

My travel agent says that she can’t book the fights I’ve found because they are all on different airlines (Qantas, Emirates) and it’s too risky!!!

I don’t quite get that.

So she’s heading back to the drawing board and seeing what she can come up with.

Meanwhile, I wonder if I should book direct at each airlines website ??? Maybe I need a different travel agent ??

Any thoughts ?

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The Global Traveller said...

I agree travel planning is fun (but sometimes a nightmare too).

Your suggested itinerary is risky. When you travel on separate tickets, as you'd need to, you bear the risk if one flight is so late that you miss the next one. That can be very costly to fix.

But, if you are willing to spend a few days in between each ticket (Singapore, Paris/Madrid, & US), then the risk should be low.

A round the world ticket might also be good for your travel. Not only could you include more flights if you wish (up to 20 or 24 in total), but you also have more flexibility.

Consider if you change your plans while away - say to stay in Spain for longer, or return from Sevilla instead of Madrid. If you've already bought an economy ticket on say Iberia from Madrid to New York, your options to change may be limited (only other Iberia flights from Madrid). Whereas a one world round the world ticket could allow you to change dates and routing to other Iberia flights, or British Airways, or Finnair, or American Airlines, or any combination of these.

Another advantage of a round the world ticket, is being able to collect frequent flyer miles from all flights. Travelling from New Zealand you should earn enough miles for a free trip to Australia or Fiji.

The Global Traveller said...

As for travel agent vs booking direct over the internet?

They each have their pros and cons.

The simpler the travel and the more familiar you are with travel requirements & mishaps (visas, some cities having multiple airports &/or terminals and being aware of issues these can cause, what can go wrong, etc) the less need for a travel agent.

I book a lot of travel myself, but still use an agent from time to time.


Hi global traveller, thanks for stopping by and providing such helpful information and advice. Will keep you posted on how I get on.

So far have decided not to book online myself and have changed travel agents...

Cheers, Liz

The Global Traveller said...

Best of luck with your new TA. It is important to get someone you are comfortable with, who understands what you want and need.


Hi Global Traveller, think new Travel Agent will work out fine...

Are you still in the Where's Wendy contest...the timing is way off for the time I get to the computer Tracker1312 and Lorib have pretty much sown it up. Still it's fun reading the comments and seeing how they figure out the clues...

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