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When to use and avoid Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia
There are, however, instances in which an online travel agent are useful. In addition to the easy-to-use interfaces, areas in which the TA might help are if they were to:
- Have negotiated a discount (ie, corporate or consolidator) with the airline. In this case you need to pay particular attention to the fare class that you're booked in; many consolidator tickets, for example, some from airfare.com or your local Chinatown TA don't qualify for frequent flyer miles.
- Combine a series of tickets into one itinerary. For example, last April when I was trying to find a cheap ticket to Buenos Aires I checked all of the canonical search engines and could only find tickets for 1100$. Orbitz, however came up with a price that was 300$ cheaper. Why? Because they found a fare sale between Washington DC and Argentina on Delta and nested it into a regular Northwest DTW-WAS 100$ flight. Result? Net savings of three hundred bucks. Typically, standard airlines wont search and book outside of their service, so their websites can't do this.