Thursday, September 13, 2012

Emerging Trend: A New Way to Save on Airfare or More Hassle When You Travel?

Save money on airfare on your trip to this
vacation rental in Little Cayman.

In an effort to trim fees paid to online booking sites such as Expedia, Travelocity and others, airlines are getting aggressive in offering money-saving deals to travelers for booking on the airlines websites.

While the airlines can't offer lower fares on their sites, they are getting creative with offers such as discount coupon codes to frequent fliers delivered via email, Facebook or Twitter. Others are penalizing travelers who don't book directly with the airline by placing limits on seat assignments, increasing fees or cutting the number of frequent flier miles a traveler can earn on a trip.

Airlines are also offering a variety of perks for booking on their websites, such as the latest seat maps, more details about in-flight entertainment options, and easier air travel booking. This gives the airlines some advantages during a traveler’s research process. Since online booking sites focus almost exclusively on price, the airline has few ways to communicate some of the other benefits their flights have to offer. For example, a booking site won't tell you that an airline offers Wi-Fi or extra legroom. Travelers will often pay more for these kinds of benefits.

What do travelers lose? First, booking on the airlines website makes comparison-shopping more difficult. Travelers also lose the "one stop shopping" advantage that online booking sites have--you won't be able to book your hotel and rental car at the airlines website.

While that's a major issue for many travelers, it may not be such an impediment to many others. Today's online customer is much more savvy when compared to even just 5 years ago. Many more users fully understand tabbed browsing and how to conduct multiple searches on their own.

As long as too many airlines don't follow the lead of Southwest Airlines and remove their flights from online booking sites entirely, this is all good news for travelers since it will give them more ways to find more bargains for airline travel.