- Service Fees, Domestic Flights And The Nuggets Of Gold The Travel Industry
Doesnt Want You To Know About
If you've been shopping for cheap flights online, you have encountered
hundreds if not thousands of sites selling airfares. These sites are
made of Mega Online agencies, Airlines, Online Airfares Specialists,
Traditional Brick and Mortar (B&M) Travel agencies. This presents
a huge pool of resources to wade to find cheap domestic flights.
What Is the Best Way To Find and Buy a Cheap Domestic Flight?
First it is helpful to understand how the market for domestic fares
works. After decades of offering travel agents a standard commission
of at least 10%, many of the larger airline carriers in North America
stopped paying base commissions to travel agents, beginning in March
2002. The elimination of commissions for domestic flights is important
because travel agencies now needed to find a source of revenue to
earn from the sale of domestic flights. Service fees have become the
new source of revenue for travel agencies since commissions were eliminated.
Since 1998, the number of agencies charging service fees has increased
from 64 percent to more than 99 percent of agencies, today. Typically,
agencies charge fees for all airline-related services from as low
as tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. Therefore, finding the
cheapest domestic flights is directly related to finding the cheapest
Now that I understand how the market for domestic fares and service
fees work how do I find the cheapest flights?
In theory, the best fare for any domestic flight should be available
directly from the airline, if you knew exactly what to ask for. If
you fly often enough, and value your time cheaply enough to make it
worth investing your time in learning to make your own reservations,
and searching each airline site since they do not sell any competitors
fares. Airline web sites have the lowest service fees (sometimes no
service fee). If you know exactly what you want, and are sure there
are no alternatives this is a cheapest way to buy a domestic flight.
However, there are problems with this method. If you have any questions,
make a mistake in your reservation, need to make a change to a reservation
or cancel a reservation, you are completely on your own. Airline customer
service departments can take hours to get through for any problems
you may encounter.
Online travel agencies offer you a search of all the airline possibilities
with a low service fee. Unlike searching the airline sites, online
travel agencies can search all airlines in one search so you do not
have to go to each airline site one by one. However, do to commission
cuts online sites may charge a small service fee which increases the
cost of the domestic flight. It is an individual decision as to whether
the service fee offsets the advantages of booking with a travel agency
rather than the airline directly. Bricks and Mortar travel
agencies offer you a search of all the airline possibilities as well
but with higher service fee. The reason for the higher fee is that
booking over the telephone or in person creates a higher cost for
the travel agency. This higher cost must be offset with higher services
Online travel agencies provide the best value solution. They allow
you to search all flight possibilities that airline sites can not
offer. Many have very low service fees because bookings are made online
so that greatly reduces the agencies costs. Finally, they can still
offer you customer service for changes or questions you may have encountered
so that you are not on your own.