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When I search for fare sales here at Points With a Crew, I use a lot of resources. Google Flights, SkyScanner, Momondo, ITA Matrix, Flyertalk, and more; there are lots of options to help you find great deals. Those sites are mostly “travel aggregators”, with links to booking sites. That’s where online travel agencies (OTAs) come in.
OTAs are websites that provide booking services for travel providers such as airlines, hotels, cruises, etc. Online travel agencies receive commissions for selling airline tickets; it’s their primary business model (along with advertising). Many times they offer fares tens or hundreds of dollars below the airlines’ advertised prices. Since they buy in bulk or at contracted prices, they can still make money with discounted fares.
But they also add a layer of communication and, potentially, confusion for customers when something goes wrong. If a flight is delayed or cancelled, is it the airline’s responsibility to assist you, or the OTA? Did the OTA provide a ticket locator an airline can use to find your ticket? All airfares sold more than 7-days before departure can be cancelled within 24 hours of initial purchase, by US regulation, but will an OTA ignore that and keep your money if you try to cancel?
The largest OTAs in America sell billions of dollars in airfares and hotel stays, with relatively few issues. However, most are really part of just two major corporate conglomerates. The first, Booking Holdings, is the largest collection of travel online travel agencies in world. Its primary airfare OTAs are:
The second major conglomerate of online travel agencies is Expedia Group. Aside from operating Chase’s travel portal, they own:
- CheapTickets.com (not to be confused with European CheapTickets.nl and others)
Which Online Travel Agencies Do You Use?
Because of good pricing options and stacking rewards, I book virtually all of my flights through these OTAs. However there are literally dozens if not hundreds of others. What other online travel agencies do you trust? Some well-known ones, such as CheapoAir, Vayama, or Trip.com? More obscure sites?
That’s my question to you. In order to help me make this site more helpful for you, and more informative to your fellow PwaC readers, what online travel agencies do you trust to book airfares? Answer below in the comments and I can potentially add great deals exclusive to certain sites when I come across them.