Booking charges: Airlines vs Agents
Airlines are usually cheaper but not always. MakeMyTrip, for example, is the best option if you're booking more than five tickets, while Expedia has no charge for international fares.
It’s common to compare rates on two or three websites, whether those of online travel agents (OTA) or your preferred airline, before you make a booking. Often enough, though, the fares are the same. Even if they do vary, it’s not by much. In such cases, you might actually save more money by looking at the convenience charge the OTA or the airline levies on each ticket, particularly if you’re making multiple bookings. This charge often comes as a surprise, as they only tell you what the charge is after you fill in all your details. It’s unlikely that you’re then going to go looking for a lower convenience fee, particularly because the fee is usually dwarfed by the high price of the tickets. Not to mention that the charges aren’t exactly exorbitant. But if there’s an easy way around, why not take it?
For this reason, we bring you a money-saving list of the convenience charges levied by both airlines and OTAs on tickets for one-way domestic and international bookings, with some intelligence below in case you’re in a hurry. We’ll update the figures monthly.
This list was last updated on July 9, 2013.
|Booking charges||Return airfare||One-way||International|
|Booking charges||Return airfare||One-way||International||Comments|
|MakeMyTrip||Rs300||Rs180||Rs300||Booking charge limited to Rs500, so great for multiple bookings|
|Expedia||Rs300||Rs180||Rs0||Doesn’t sell international Indigo or SpiceJet tickets|
|Yatra||Rs300||Rs180||Rs300||Also has the highest cancellation fees|
|Via.com||Rs150||Rs100||Rs245||Good option for one-way bookings|
|Arzoo||Rs125||Rs125||Rs125||If you’re booking a flight on multiple carriers|
We’ve assumed you’re getting no discount at any OTA or airline while making the booking, so if you are, please factor that in.
Airlines usually better
In nearly all cases, you’ll find that the airline’s website is a cheaper option. So a good strategy remains checking the cheapest flight price on Expedia or Yatra and then proceeding to the airline’s website to make the booking. However, there are exceptions, which we’ve noted below.
Saving example: If you book four tickets on SpiceJet, you’d save Rs800 over a booking on Expedia.
Air India always cheapest
Air India has absolutely no booking fee, so if you’ve found a cheap Air India flight, you could save a few hundred rupees simply by using their website to make the booking. Their systems are possibly slower, but more than just tolerable.
Saving example: If you book four tickets on Air India, you’d save Rs1200 over a booking on Yatra.
Arzoo for multiple airlines
If you’re not taking the same airline on your return journey, this one is a good option because you won’t be able to book your flights on the airline’s website at the cheaper return rate (plus you’d be paying booking fees twice).
Saving example: If you book four tickets on multiple airlines on Arzoo, you’d save Rs700 over a booking on Cleatrip.
MakeMyTrip for multiple bookings
MakeMyTrip is the only OTA or airline to have a ceiling on its convenience charge. Even if you book 10 tickets on its website in one transaction, you’re still only charged Rs500. So if you’re booking more than five tickets even on a budget airline, it would be cheaper to book them here rather than on the airline’s website. However, be sure not to cancel or you’ll be paying high cancellation/rescheduling charges.
Saving example: If you book six return tickets on MakeMyTrip, as opposed to the official Indigo website, you’d save Rs200.
Via.com for one-way travel
If you’re booking a one-way ticket, Via.com is a very convenient option because you don’t have to then log on to the airline’s website (unless it’s Air India) to make the booking, as their convenience charges are as low as those of the budget carriers.
Saving example: You may not save money, but you wouldn’t be required to then log on to the airline’s website to make the booking.
Expedia for international
Expedia charges no booking fee for international flights. However, it doesn’t have the budget carriers Spice Jet and Indigo, both of which do some international sectors. If you’re booking a Jet Airways flight to say, Singapore, however, it would be much cheaper.
Saving example: If you were to book four return Jet Airways tickets, you’d save Rs840 by picking Expedia over the airline’s official website.