Airfare is expensive enough these days without paying extra booking fees that can be easily avoided. If you're willing to do a little more legwork on your own and work exclusively online, here are two simple ways to save a few dollars.
- Take an extra step in the booking process. Because online travel agencies have access to fares from many airlines, they can be great tools to use when researching. But, as with any helpful service, there's a cost for that breadth and convenience. Agencies including Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, and CheapTickets all charge booking fees for airfare, which range from $2.99 to $12.99. (Note that Hotwire has eliminated all airfare booking fees, and priceline recently eliminated booking fees for all but its Name-Your-Own-Price fares.) Keep these fees in mind when comparing agency fares to those from the airlines themselves.
- Always book online. Airlines and online travel agencies alike charge extra fees for booking via telephone or in person at the airport. Most airlines (with the exception of Southwest) charge between $5 and $20 for reservations over the phone or at an airport. Orbitz, Travelocity, and CheapTickets all charge $25, but Expedia and Hotwire don't charge an extra fee for booking over the phone. Unless you really need hand-holding, stick with the Internet for your airfare purchases.
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(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.)