Aug302017

Are obscure OTA websites safe and reliable for airline ticket purchases?

Meta-search engines like Momondo.com and Skyscanner.com track online travel agency (OTA) airline ticket prices. When I write about low fare deals, typically I link to Google Flights and quote prices found on the airline’s own websites. Yet, my standard practice before buying my own airline tickets is comparing ticket prices I find on airline websites to Momondo.com and Skyscanner.com meta-search ticket prices.

OTA ticket saved me 30% on LOT Polish PRG-NCE ticket

The last airline ticket for my Europe trip in October was purchased yesterday flying Prague to Warsaw to Nice with a 22.5 hour overnight layover in Warsaw from 6pm to 4:30pm. This is a ticket I have been tracking for two weeks.

The problem was the ticket price on Google Flights showed $106, but priced at $150+ on Expedia and $235 on LOT Polish.

Momondo.com showed this ticket at $100 yesterday through  gotogate.com OTA for the date I wanted to fly.

PRG-NCE $100 LOT

Are obscure OTA websites safe and reliable for airline ticket purchases?

Readers over the past two years occasionally ask me if it is risky to buy low fare airline tickets through obscure OTA sites found on Momondo and Skyscanner.

I have purchased 30 or more airline tickets over the past year. Around 10 of those tickets were purchased through OTA sites found via Momondo.com or Skyscanner.com searches.

So far, I have never had an issue with my OTA ticket purchases or hotel bookings for lower ticket prices than the airline websites offer.

My thought process and strategy for purchasing airline tickets.

My first choice when purchasing an airline ticket is buy through the airline’s website, if there is no significant ticket price difference. 

My second choice is an airline ticket purchased through a major OTA like Expedia.com and Orbitz.com, if there is no significant ticket price difference. 

My third choice is an airline ticket purchased through an online travel agency I have never used before, when there is a significant ticket price difference.

Still, I take precautions.

Gotogate.com is an OTA I have never used before. After making my purchase yesterday, I waited for the confirmation email.

The actual ticket priced in Swedish krone at 843 SEK or $105.72 USD rather than the $100.49 USD shown when I made the purchase. That is not a price difference I will quibble about on this purchase. The price was significantly lower than I had found for this itinerary.

Using the record locator supplied by gotogate.com, I went to LOT Polish website to verify my ticket was registered with LOT. I attempted to have the itinerary on LOT Polish website emailed and texted to me. Both of these attempts came back with an error message.

Next, I checked my personal data on LOT.

My email and phone number were populated fields on the LOT website for my ticket, but not accurate. My phone number was listed as gotogate_us. My email was missing @.

After correcting these fields I was able to receive my itinerary by email from LOT Polish website.

Add frequent flyer number and passport information to itinerary.

Passport information is required in advance for some international itineraries.

Frequent flyer information, besides allowing miles earning, can also open up free self-select seat assignments for elite members.

PRG-NCE Momondo prices

Today, the ticket price on gotogate.com is now $135. Edreams.com shows $106, but most of the other OTA sites are $147 and higher.

Momondo.com meta-search with gotogate.com ticket purchase for $106 saved 30% on the cost of my airline ticket with afternoon flight departure times for Prague and Warsaw and 22.5 hours on the ground in Warsaw, Poland. The afternoon departure times allow me to leisurely make my way to the airports using inexpensive public transportation.

Despite having been to Warsaw Airport twice in 2017, I have never been to downtown Warsaw. While I could have flown Prague to Nice for $93 nonstop with Czech Airlines, this opportunity to spend the night in Warsaw and walk around the city for several hours is a part of my trip I look forward to experiencing.

Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, Hamburg, London, Milan, Paris, Rome, Stockholm and Warsaw were all cities I could have planned to visit with a Prague to Nice airline ticket available through various OTA sites for $75 and $120. Several of these cities are places I have visited recently and some of these cities like London and Paris involved too much time commuting between airports and city center.

Milan, Italy was the itinerary and city I gave the most effort researching. There were several good hotel deals in Milan. The drawback to Milan was a 5-hour bus or train ride to Nice, France.

My October European flight itinerary is now San Jose – Prague – Warsaw – Nice – Sofia, Bulgaria – Prague – San Jose with four airline tickets for $600 all in flying British Airways, LOT Polish and Aegean Airlines.

My next trip is Prague, Nice and Plovdiv for $500 airfare (Aug 21, 2017).

 

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Be careful !
    I have had major issues with obscure travel sites. Double charging the credit card is very common. And they can be tricky – charing once under the OTA name and again using the airlines name. and cancellation/changes are very painful if not impossible.

  2. I’ve used GotoGate several times and they are very good, especially it seems ex-Scandinavia. However Momondo has sent me to some odd ones with which I have had trouble.

  3. You have to consider that some of these OTA, like edreams offer NO services with the purchase, they won’t even notify you in case of flight changes or cancellation. I found out the hard way when my flight on an airline in Myanmar was cancelled, never got my money back either.
    So, I agree with your approach to use them as a last resort and when they offer significant savings or are the only OTA to allow booking. But buyer beware – if anything goes wrong, you are on your own. And watch your credit card statement for double charges…

  4. @Rupert – I always go through the airline’s website and make sure all my information is correct in the airline’s website. I provided examples in this post about seeing both my email address and phone number were not correctly displayed in LOT Polish Airlines website.

    Summer 2016 at London Heathrow I listened to an irate man complain to United Airlines how he was not notified about a flight cancellation. The agent looked at his record and said, “you booked with Expedia and never registered your ticket on our website. You should filled out the customer flight record information on our site, then we would have notified you.”

    That conversation stuck with me. I always immediately go to the airline’s website to register all my personal information after I purchase an airline ticket from an online travel agency.

  5. For a night in Warsaw, Courtyard is a decent option, I tried it twice. You can walk there from the terminal. A second airport hotel is being built on an adjacent lot. A nearby 7.5 HHonors Hampton is better (free breakfast) but you need a quick shuttle to get there.

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