Ever since the major booking sites that are separate from individual airlines dropped their booking fees, and with the airline sites not generally offering bonus mile booking bonuses any longer, I’ve found it attractive to use those sites.
Previously I had found it useful to book elsewhere anyway, and certainly when booking for others, because on the whole I’ve found them much more user firendly and much less cumbersome from search to purchase.
Plus in many cases you can earn mileage bonuses or cash back on your purchases. Fatwallet offers 1.4% (occasionally higher) on Expedia purchases. Combine that with no booking fees, an easy to use interface, the ability to save plenty of traveler profiles and mix and match carriers, I’ve been a frequent customer.
Orbitz has historically been better at finding low fare combinations of different carriers. Expedia will often price the same if you piece together those carriers yourself using a multi-city search (although is somewhat clunky in offering as many flight options as Orbitz) but the interface is less useful for me. Specifically, it hasn’t been able to allow you to enter frequent flyer miles which differ from the program of the operating carrier. That would require a subsequent phone call to the airline itself. And their booking page tries to sell you travel insurance and defaults to including it in the purchase, you have to opt out.
A minor annoyance, a single click to get rid of it, but recently a friend not inexperienced with travel bookings got caught up by this. In a rush to make a purchase, checking that the itinerary is correct, knwoing the purchase price and… Boom. An email arrives about the travel insurance she bought (which in this case even excluded the carrier her flights were operated by for its coverage in the case of airline default — so it wasn’t even all that useful if she had wanted the coverage, something she would never have known without reading the fine print sent after purchase).
I told her to send Orbitz an email insisting that the insurance be cancelled and her card refunded. To their credit they responded promptly to wit:
To cancel this coverage, please contact Access America at (877) 593-4989. Access America will process a full refund of the premium to you if you contact them within 10 days of purchasing the coverage, as long as you have not already departed on your trip or filed a claim. No refunds shall be paid to you after 10 days of booking the program.
Good to know! They slip the insurance in, but it’s perfectly cancellable within 10 days.
I’d rather they not make the default to purchase travel insurance. And if it’s so easy to make the purchase, I really wish it were as easy to cancel (e.g. online). But a simple phone call apparently should take care of it. Good to know for anyone who thinks they’re stuck with a mistaken purchase of Orbitz-sold travel insurance!