I have always been a big advocate of booking directly with the airline where possible instead of using an Online Travel Agent (OTA). When you book direct you tend to get better customer support from the airline and things like selecting seats, purchasing add ons and rebooking are normally easier. For example Aer Lingus has a very poor IT system and I’ve found when booking through an OTA it’s not possible to book seats online.
I booked a flight recently where I used a shortened name – Jon instead of Jonathan. I messaged the airline Virgin Atlantic and they said they couldn’t update the booking as it was owned by Budget Air. Budget Air wanted to charge £55 for the privilege. Had I booked direct with Virgin it would have been free.
There are times where booking through an OTA does make sense. OTAs can often offer airline combinations that are not available on the airline websites and can often be considerable cheaper. However if booking direct is possible and not more expensive it’s well worth it.
Ryanair have really been pushing the book direct agenda over the last couple of weeks. With covid causing widespread flight cancellations, airlines have been busy refunding customers. When you book through an OTA and the flight is cancelled, the airline refunds the OTA, who in turn refunds the customer. This can cause massive delays in the process. A quick look at Ryanair’s twitter feed highlights the issues.
Ryanair have launched a customer verification tool to allow customers who booked Ryanair flights through an OTA claim a refund directly. I have to hand it to Ryanair, I’m impressed with this tool. I have only ever booked directly with Ryanair and I found it very easy to get a refund for the two Ryanair flights that were cancelled. Aer Lingus on the other hand…