Air Tickets: International
When it comes to air tickets, international air tickets are just as easy to find as domestic tickets. The major challenge is “information overload” because the choice out there is huge!
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, my “go to” website is rome2rio.com for planning. I’d have to say that there may be better comparison websites to use, however rome2rio.com was the choice because of the convenience. It was able to give me information on flights sure, but it also gave me information about other modes of transport.
For example, a flight from Athens to Santorini was very quick and super cheap. However, there’s no better way to visit Santorini than using a Greek ferry, and rome2rio provides all of this information.
This is the kind of information you can only find from studying reviews from travelers who have done it. One of my dreams was to see the houses on the cliffs of Santorini from the water – but if you didn’t realize that the water was your best vantage point, it would be easier, quicker and cheaper to just jump on a plane.
Another reason I found rome2rio.com to be superior is that planning such a detailed and large trip, I was looking for more than just air travel, and it was easy to just leave the website open on a tab to refer to whenever I wanted to.
BUT WHICH ONE?
One of the annoying things about a lot of the flight comparison websites is that when you click on a link for a company who claim to give you these comparisons, the next thing you find is a whole heap of pages open from a whole heap of other websites! I found this to be frustrating – especially when the nature of the internet is that it takes ages to load all of those pages. Also, on each page, you’ve got to enter your travel details – departure point and arrival point. Then you’ve got to wait again while each page goes out and finds the information that you’re looking for.
The only thing that wasn’t so good about rome2rio.com was that it did not include all of the airlines that flew the routes that I was looking for. I don’t know why. For that reason, I planned everything out with the online websites, but I did not book our air tickets with the website. In fact, I didn’t book our air travel online at all.
Once I had talked to the others, and we’d sorted out exactly where we were going, I collated the information and invited some of our local travel agents to quote and offer suggestions.
Some of them didn’t even answer me. Some of them said that it was “too involved” for them to quote. Obviously I was disappointed with the first lot, but the second lot? It turns out that travel agents also use all sorts of fancy software to create their itineraries for travelers. Yes, you guessed it – they filed it in the Too Hard Basket.
THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
But one travel agent stood out from the crowd. Jeremy from World Travellers was absolutely invaluable! He came up with all sorts of scenarios for flights, and with a little going back and forth, we settled on a plan. The advantage of using a travel agent is that they can get their hands on deals that are not available to the public, which is fantastic!
I have a bit of a background in the travel industry – well, indirectly. My father was a Regional Manager for Air New Zealand, so because he came through the ranks initially as a travel agent, I knew what to expect. But Jeremy was totally unexpected!
Not only did he come up with some awesome deals – and some on airlines I’d never heard of! I certainly did a bit of research on the airlines I was unfamiliar with, but then so did Jeremy before he recommended them. Jeremy was also able to show us that by simply changing some minor details, we could save a massive amount of money. For example, I found a flight from New York to Honolulu with one airline, but Jeremy suggested we change the airline and leave 1 hour earlier, and we saved USD$400 each. That may not sound much in the scheme of things, but if you add it up as a cost of your trip, that was USD$1600 for the 4 of us. Now that’s a lot of extra cappuccinos!
Jeremy also got involved with finding our accommodation. This was great, and he did, as a travel agent, manage to get discounts for us. But upon further research, I found that by joining a number of websites, the discounts I could secure were either the same or better.
There are squillions of websites that compare airfares, but as I said before, I find them confusing and frustrating to use. However, it does pay to take a look at a few because generally, you’ll be able to work out which companies tend to offer a lower price over all.
Jeremy also has a wealth of experience dealing with locals and others from overseas. He’s done a fair bit of traveling himself, so it was great to be able to get some recommendations. He was even good enough to give me a guideline as to how long to spend in which places. For example, originally I’d only looked at staying in Turkey for a few hours. Jeremy put us right with that one, and we extended it to overnight – but the result is that we’re going back! Yes, it didn’t take us long to realize that Turkey was one place we wanted to spend A LOT longer.
BEWARE THE CHEAP FARE
Be wary though. Sometimes there’s a reason air tickets are cheap! Make sure you do your research. If you find an airfare that seems too good to be true, make sure you check out the company by reading some reviews and news. It’s very easy to find, just type the airline name into Google with the word “reviews” after it. Then repeat the search with the word “news”.
I won’t name names, but there are a few cheap airfares offered by several companies that I would never travel with. One of these companies has a shocking “incident” count; incidence that appear to be the result of poor maintenance. Another couple I know of are notorious for delays. They never leave on time, so the flights are always late.
Another 2 companies that I know of have exceptionally low airfares, but their customer service is really bad. Their reputation must precede them because it appears shoddy service, tardiness and other negatives seem to take a precedent with customers over low airfares. For my money, I would rather spend a bit more but feel safe, secure and that I’m not just a number.
So in a nutshell, once again there’s no issue with planning your trip using the websites available, but when it comes to booking, the personal touch – with a real travel agent – ticks my boxes every time.
If you decide to do as we did and plan everything using the resources you can find online, and then contact a travel agent to define, refine, I seriously want to recommend Jeremy from World Travellers – even if you don’t live here in New Zealand, I just know 100% that he can help you – Just tell him Sharron sent you!