If you spend time searching on the internet then you waste the thing a travel agent provides: a way to save time. The only other advantage is better cancalation policy and if you have no clue about what you want they might have some good package deals. If you are searching the internet your doing the same thing as a travel agent but you know more about what you like then they do and you can get the better rates because most of the good deals are non comissionable.
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Originally posted by Scooter TrashWhich would be the most hasslefree form of getting plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc? Use a travel agent, or Orbits, Travelocity, etc?
I've used an agent in the past and have had pretty good luck. But I have access to a computer all day long, and could look for tickets.
Hassle-free == travel agent Cheapest == combination of internet & direct phoning
If you're willing to invest the time rummaging on the net, comparison shopping, etc, then you're most likely to get a cheaper result that way. If you find doing all that a hassle, then one call to the travel agent takes care of everything.
If you do use a travel agent, there are some that do a much better job than others. After all, with almost everything available online, service & knowledge are the 2 big things that the travel agent is offering. Ideally, if you don't know much about your destination, you'd like your travel agent to be somewhat familiar with it -- otherwise they're not that much help. If you know somebody who travels a lot, use their travel agent. Barring that, I'd probably look around & see if I could find a company that's been around for a while.
As a former travel agent, I thought I would throw my two cents in- Travel Agents are a great source of information. The CRSs (Central Reservation system) that they use are able to access all airlines at once, and price comparisions are done with a snap. In addition, many have negotiated contracts with airlines for anywhere from 6-30% off of a particular airlines fares. They are ALSO much more open with discussing the ever changing airline rules, and can offer many more solutions for you should you happen to miss a flight. The problem with them nowadays is that due to the airlines completely eliminating commissions, they are FORCED to charge a service fee of around $40-50. (one of the reasons I left the industry - jobs were dropping all over the place). Internet sites like Priceline I would avoid like the plague. Not only are they terrible for flexibility, it is nearly impossible to speak to a real person, and if you should miss your flight, you are up the creek. My personal advice is to check a few of the airlines' OWN websites. They often offer cheap fares, and it is not at all a hassle for them to alter your flights if you bought the ticket through them. I would check two or three- but almost 100% of the time, the carrier who is dominant in that market will either have the best fare, or one of the smaller carriers like Jetblue or Southwest (both of which are awesome) will be competing directly, and might be able to do better. Feel free to PM me with specifics if you want some more adivce. I will likely be able to direct you to the best place, or if I can't, I still have some "connections" that I can query for more up-to-date information. For Vegas- my advice is to go with America West or Southwest if you are out West, United is also a strong possibility if you are out East. But there are tons of options...
What I've always heard from almost everyone is that the more complicated a trip is (foreign countries, multiple destinations, car/hotel/train/touring), the better deal a travel agent is. A "weekend trip to get away," however, doesn't really sound like a very complicated trip.
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