Hi, I'm looking to fly from London to Bangkok at the beginning of Feb. returning mid May. I don't have any experience with international flight booking and I am wondering is it better to book direct through the airline website or through on online travel agency like expedia or travelocity. For example, there's a flight on Etihad airways that is more or less the same price booked though etihadairways.com and travelocity.ca, what are the benifits and drawbacks of the two options.
If it's relevant, I'm actually Canadian, and I'm flying to London in January and from there I'll continue on to Bangkok. Sorry if this is a stupid question, as I said, I don't have much experience with this stuff. Thanks.
It really doesn't matter that much which of the two you choose, if the prices are the same on both. Sometimes agencies offer some kind of membership, so it would have advantages to book through them. Either way, you're probably subject to exactly the same terms and conditions, etc.
It's not always true that the airline offers the same price as a travel agent - sometimes an agent will guarantee to bulk buy a certain number of seats from an airline and buy them at a certain rate which may then not be available direct from the airline. So you may be able to get cheaper fares from an agent if you shop about. Though in practice they're usually pretty similar.
The terms and conditions will depend on which 'fare class' you buy, and all tickets for a fare class will have the same terms and conditions regardless of whether they were bought from the airline or an agent.
It may sound a bit old-fashioned, but in my experience it's always the regular (non-e) travel agents that find the best deals. They seem to know about special discounts and other money-saving arrangements that you won't find when looking for flights yourself, or booking one through an online travel agent.
It will depend on as to where you want to go and when you want to go. If your plan is to go in next month then I think you can get better deals from the agents but don't forget to catch the last minute fares or offers running on many agents websites - those can be icing on the cake...
In my experience, travel agents just punch in your destination and your travel dates and print up a short list of flights to choose from. I finally got comfortable enough to book online and realized how much I was overpaying. Mind, flights out of NA are usually pretty expensive, and I didn't shop around for a new travel agent, either. Now I just play around online with dates and connections till I find the best deal.
I think the best thing to do is to shop around. Everyone when the travel does a ridiculous amount of research on what their daily costs are going to be and other internal transportation. Find the fare online then go to the travel agent and see what they come up with. You never know. Based on your destination, time of travel, and how far in advance you book can effect everything so its worth it to get a few prices. Yet, around the world travel I have online bookings to be cheaper. Just do your research.