Travel Agents Can Still Find Better Deals On Some Routes

AirTicketI'm a fervent believer in booking my own travel online, and for most single-hop or return journeys it will get you the cheapest deals. However, when it comes to more complex round-the-world routes, a travel agent will often score you a better deal.

Picture by prettywarstl

I was reminded of this anew when organising an Australia-US-Europe trip for early 2010 this week. Booking the individual flights myself online would have cost me $4800. A round-the-world fare offered the possibility of a cheaper deal, but Qantas' RTW booking site is, to put it kindly, useless.

Dropping into my local travel agent, I got the same selection of flights for $3000. That was as a series of connected bookings — round-the-world came in at around $3400.

Taking that approach doesn't mean you shouldn't spend some time researching in advance. But there was no way I could have pulled together that fare myself.

Got a good deal (or a raw prawn) from an agent? Tell us your story in the comments.


    I always find when I fly to check with a travel agent, ask for the best deal, push them a bit if you have to. If they won't lower their prices it's a good sign the route isn't that profitable - it seems to be high traffic low margin routes they can't/won't budge on.

    For more complex travel a good agent is definitely the way to go. My father travels a lot throughout Asia and the Middle East and almost always uses a travel agent. When you're off the beaten track, the websites tend to stick with a standard price that's way above what an agent can do for you.

    As Angus said though, don't stick with one source. I like to always check against each other, but you can generally get a feel once you've traveled the route a few times.

    The Flyertalk Oneworld forum is also a nice source of information. At the moment you can do a Oneworld Explorer ticket in economy starting in Auckland, NZ and giving you up to 16 flights across North America, Europe and Asia (LONE4) for about $3400 including taxes.

    I forgot to mention, you can avoid using the Qantas RTW booking site by using the Oneworld xONEx booking tool and choosing NZ as the country of sale:

    Oneworld tickets get booked with whoever you use on the first flight, so if you avoid Qantas and fly out of Auckland on American Airlines codeshare or on Lan Air, you avoid the higher fuel fees that Qantas charges.

    How about one of the other alliances, StarAlliance or SkyTeam? Do they fly out of AUS? If not you could get a cheap flight to another country and start the RTW ticket from there.

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