If you love traveling but have limited money in your bank account, you may find yourself doing whatever it takes to eliminate as many dollar signs as possible. It’s like boarding a plane at 6 a.m., traveling with only a small backpack, and using a third-party booking site to purchase plane tickets.
This is what my sister did recently and it affected her finances. It is easy to book travel online with the help of technology. However, you should consider the potential risks before booking travel using a third-party platform. Read on to learn what not to do when buying flight tickets online.
Booking flights using a third-party platform can be risky
Since my sister lives in Paris, she met me one weekend while I was traveling in Budapest, Hungary. She works as a babysitter, so she had to come up with a lot due to her limited budget. My sister booked the flight using a third-party travel website after researching prices.
He felt comfortable doing this because the brand was reputable and the airlines he knew stood out. He would fly with two different airlines for a reasonable price. But the plan quickly went from smooth to major problem.
On our last evening in Budapest, after happily skipping our bottomless Prosecco boat cruise, chaos ensued. A text from one of the airlines warned my sister that her early morning flight was seven hours late. Not having to wake up at 3 a.m. would often be a blessing, but the delay would result in my sister missing her second connecting flight in Milan.
Since my sister had to return to Paris for work, she had to make alternative travel plans at the last minute. Because he booked his tickets using a third-party website, he had little recourse and we had to quickly strategize how to solve the dilemma. Did I mention it was almost midnight at this point and we’d had way too much bubbly?
But dear reader, I have good news. My sister went to Paris and you can learn from her mistake to avoid making a similar mistake the next time you book a flight online. Here are three ways booking a flight using a third-party website could end up costing you more than you planned.
1. Money lost on the first flight
After learning of the delay, a representative from the third-party website called my sister. He was told that he could receive a small refund if he agreed to cancel the delayed flight. But only $40 of the $173 was eligible for a refund.
To make matters worse, only $3 would be refunded to the credit card, while the remaining $37 would be refunded as a coupon. He also had no choice but to cancel the second flight, but because it departed on time, he was not eligible for a refund.
2. Money spent on buying a new plane ticket
My sister finally booked a new direct flight from Budapest to Paris. The price is 300 dollars. This was the most logical choice because it allowed him to get home on time for work. But the extra expense took a toll on his personal finances. He had planned other trips for later this year, and his now depleted travel budget was jeopardizing future travel plans.
3. Additional travel expenses
Not only did he have to pay an extra $300 for the new flight, but he also had to stay in town until his evening flight departed, which was longer than planned. Additional travel expenses such as food and transportation increased his budget even further. If you have to make last-minute alternative travel arrangements, as my sister did, the extra costs can add up quickly.
Set yourself up for success when booking travel online
Flights sold on third-party booking platforms may be cheaper, but there are risks. It’s worth spending the extra money to book flights directly with an airline. You’ll likely have more flexibility when it comes to refunds in the event of a delay or cancellation, and you’ll contact the airline directly if you need customer service support.
Another important tip: Don’t forget to review the booking conditions. Whether you’re booking using a third-party website or directly with an airline, always check the booking conditions in detail. You want to know what to expect if something goes wrong. My sister was given some refund, but this is not always possible. It is necessary to be extra careful when booking travel arrangements online.
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