Is your travel agent biased?

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Ever wondered if you’re getting the lowest airfare or the best possible routing when you buy a plane ticket? Of course you have.

When Shaheed Sabrin clicked on Expedia.com recently to search for a fare from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, the online agency claimed the lowest available price was $2,300. Just to be safe, he checked a site called Skyscanner.com, which queries several travel sites at once. It returned a price $300 cheaper.

Sabrin, an actor and educator who lives in Los Angeles, wondered if Expedia was only showing him the fares it wanted him to see, as opposed to every available price.

“Not disclosing all options leaves consumers feeling ripped off,” he says.

That’s a fair question, and as it turns out, he’s not the only one asking. The Department of Transportation is concerned that ticket agents have biased their displays to disadvantage certain airlines on their websites. It’s proposing a new rule that would require online agencies to disclose any fare-fixing.

Expedia, the largest online travel agency, would not comment directly on Sabrin’s case but insisted it does not show preference for or bias flights.

“The reason travelers go to an online travel agent is so they can look at and easily compare all their options, spanning hundreds of airlines, including upgrades and fees, and find the ticket they need at the best price,” says Dayna Sason, an Expedia spokeswoman.

Orbitz and Priceline say their displays show no preferential fare rankings, and Nancy St. Pierre, a spokeswoman for Sabre, which powers travel agency fare displays, says its systems are “designed to provide a neutral display.”

Bias is difficult to measure or detect. For example, how much money have travel agencies pocketed because of display bias? No one knows. How can you tell if an online agency is offering an incomplete picture, as Sabrin suspected, or if a lower fare just became available? You can’t. Then there’s this: Would knowing who is biasing their fares change the way anyone books tickets?

The problem extends beyond online agents, says consumer advocate Edward Hasbrouck. Airlines aren’t disclosing all their fares to travel agents, even though they’re required to by law. But he says regulators look the other way on enforcement, and as a result, it’s impossible to have every available fare at your fingertips. It’s simply unknowable.

“No travel agency has any way to know what range of prices any airline is offering, to whom, or through what channels,” he says.

It’s also difficult to tell how much money you’ve wasted, thanks to biasing. If anyone has that number, it’s the online agents who tinker with their fare displays, and they aren’t being talkative.

Hang on, says Jeff Klee, chief executive of CheapAir.com. Whether they’re buying airline tickets or anything else, most consumers don’t assume that every store has every possible product. (He doesn’t bias his fares either, he’s quick to add).

“I think this proposed rule is a classic solution in search of a problem,” he says.

Even if travelers knew some airfares were given priority, how would that change anyone’s behavior? Would a warning at the end of a fare display affect the way people purchase their tickets? That, too, is impossible to know until it becomes a requirement.

And it will, unless the DOT is inundated with comments from consumers that claim no one is interested in fare bias.

Of course, anyone who claims consumers are better off not knowing if their online travel agency is fixing its fare displays just doesn’t get it. More information — even if it’s stating the obvious, even if no one knows what to do with it — is better than less information.

Here’s hoping the rule flies. I, for one, am curious to know when my online agency isn’t telling me everything. Aren’t you?

Should DOT regulate fare bias?

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How to fight fare bias

• Cast a wide net. Search more than one online travel agency and check with an airfare aggregator, which queries numerous online agencies, such as Kayak.com and Skyscanner.com.

• Get insider information. Sites such as Google flight search (Google.com/flights) use technology that can search more sites. Also, a subscription service such as ExpertFlyer.com can show you more fares and fare combinations than many online agencies.

• Tell the DOT what you think. Leave a comment about its proposed disclosure rule. Click on regulations.gov and search for rulemaking DOT-OST-2014-0056.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Alas, I love market forces and generally prefer market based solutions. However, the economic model assumes some level of perfect information. That is impossible in this case without government regulation. Thus my cherished market model fails and government intervention is necessary as the market cannot regulate itself.

  • LFH0

    Sometimes the lowest fare available between points A and B is not the lowest fare for traveling between points A and B. It may be that the sum of the local fare from point A to point C plus the local fare from point C to point B is less than the published fare from point A to point B. I would not expect any fare engine to do this type of analysis. But, sometimes when faced with a high published fare between two points, I’ll investigate and find a lower fare connecting through a third city.

  • Kairho

    Not this old (50 years old?) argument again! It has been litigated again and again although the GDSs (from which agents, including the online agencies, get their fare information) have been appropriately tweeked many times.

    There still is some bias but almost none for nefarious reasons. A couple of reasons are not all airlines include their fares in all GDSs. And not all fares are required to be in the GDS nor made available to all agencies (contrary to the claim in the Chris’ article above) because some fares are private and not generally available to the public (three good examples being government fares, corporate fares, and special bulk/consolidator/wholesale fares available only to agents by negotiated contract).

    Finally, and maybe the easiest to solve, agents will not always tell their customers about the, say, lowest possible fare because the agent doesn’t think it’s a good value. For example, that 2 connection flight from A to B may be $20 cheaper than the nonstop but for whatever reason the agent doesn’t bother to tell the customer sitting at the desk. Information overload comes into play and, after all, isn’t one of the reasons to use an agent to filter information?

  • VoR61

    Ran into this recently while using Kayak, a favorite search site of ours.

    Over a period of over a month, the cheapest one-way fare for two that I could find was $900. Not being one to give up, I finally noticed one city that was a frequent connecting point so I broke up my search into two parts and was able to book for $600.

    Although I am a bit puzzled, I choose to believe that it’s a flaw in their search engine and not preferential treatment to any particular routes.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you forget to mention google bias? That’s big.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you realize the article was comparing an OTA with a meta search site? While I personally will buy from Expedia, I will not consider most of the jokers that pay Skyscanner a fee to be found.

  • TonyA_says

    According to flyr …

    On average we spend 6.5 hours over a period of 29 days thinking, researching and booking a flight for our trip. During this period, we visit more than 22 websites and see airfares rise up to 25%. Why is it so difficult to simply get from point A to point B?

    Today’s so-called display bias is easily solved by searching again and again on many different sites. Of course it may lead to another problem – confusion and search fatigue :-)

  • Alan Gore

    The very fact that you can use different OTA and meta sites as search engines to see fare bias gives you the information you need in a free market. Regulation is not necessary in this case.

  • mencik

    This sure sounds like a good reason to use a real human being travel agent vs. an OTA which is nothing more than a booking web site, not a travel agent. The human can use all the tools at their disposal whereas the booking web site can only use those programmed by the computer programmers that set it up. The personal touch is always better.

  • TonyA_says

    I call that brute force searching.
    I wrote an app that launches several search sites for a specific itinerary.
    It helps me figure out what is out there before I do my own GDS research.
    You will be surprised what you can find. There’s too many options and the real problem is separating the wheat from the chaff.
    It’s hard to fathom why there are so many vendors selling the same flights and hotel rooms. There’s probably a positive correlation between lower price and scam :-)

  • VoR61

    Cannot agree with “always better”. Tried once on a cruise and was told nothing was available from NCL on the dates we specified. Went online and found what we wanted in 5 minutes. So, as expected, it all depends on who the person is behind the “personal” …

  • mencik

    I guess I’ll have to agree that “always” was the wrong word. I would be willing to say “usually”. Clearly it is possible to have a bad experience no matter whether it is a personal TA or a booking website. However, if the personal TA could find anything in their systems and did not do due diligence of checking other online sites also and then finding out why their system didn’t have the same thing, then I would suggest that they weren’t a very good TA.

  • Poley King

    Do you even know why skyscanner shows lower prices that a US based travel agent or are you just hiding facts to make up an issue that doesn’t exist?

  • sirwired

    I don’t think Expedia not finding the absolute lowest fare is some sort of nefarious plot; not every website will show every single fare. That’s the whole reason metasearch websites like Kayak, Google travel, and skyscanner exist!

  • Poley King

    The issue here is point of sale. Everyone wants to turn something into a mass conspiracy. http://maphappy.org/2014/06/use-point-of-sale-to-get-cheaper-international-tickets/

  • bodega3

    The title of this article is extremely misleading. An OTA is not a travel agent. Never has been.

  • bodega3

    But Kairho, if it is on the internet, that must be the lowest rate. DIY’ers have hundreds of sights to look at, so they can get the best deal, right? Online shoppers are so well informed as the internet told them so.

  • Poley King

    Google “Use a Fake Location to Get Cheaper Plane Tickets” and you will find out why skyscannr is cheaper. Its not becasue fares are bring hidden, it’s becasue they are not for sale in the US. US travel agent will search fares filed for the US market. Just wait until IATA resoluton 787. You will start seeing fares filed only or residents of a specific city or state.

  • bodega3

    But please note, that while you think you are doing everything to get all the information you need by way of the internet, you most certainly are not. But if you are happy with that idea, so for it.

  • bodega3

    I have checked fares/flights/carriers on Kayak, just as recently as last week while I was without my GDS. Once I got my GDS, I found better flight options right off the bat on the GDS that Kayak wasn’t providing. OTA’s are not regulated. The GDS is.

  • bodega3

    Please note that what isn’t showing just this minute, can be there the next minute. Someone holds inventory, then releases it. It happens all the time.

  • bodega3

    But are you sure those meatasearch websites are really showing you everything? How do you know?

  • bodega3

    Yes, as a US resident, book that USA fare, from JFK to SFO and see what happens when you are asked for your passport, as the fare is only good for visitors to the US, not for citizens. Same with tourist fares in other parts of the world. Oh, did you say you don’t read rules, only look for cheapest fare?

  • TonyA_says

    Let’s test this display bias thing here.
    Let’s find a cheap LAX to JNB roundtrip fare this summer (2014).
    I’ll use Kayak Explore to find it.
    Kayak found a cheap one for only $1095 (depart LAX 9SEP, return JNB 10SEP)

    Now note carefully the different vendor prices:
    Kayak $1095
    Webjet $1103
    Orbitz $1115
    CheapTickets.com $1115
    Virgin Atlantic $1115
    Expedia $1115
    Priceline $1115

    **Correction** KAYAK itself is the cheapest!
    But a deeper analysis reveals they will simply send you to airfare dotcom.
    Personally, for $20 difference, I’ll just buy directly from the airline.
    Why risk buying from a vendor I know nothing of or from some place that has a dodgy reputation or reviews on the internet?

    It is not display bias stupid, it is chasing a dirt cheap price that is stupid.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Was just going to post that. When I see the phrase “Travel Agent”, I think “human”. When I see “biased” in connection with a human, I think someone is thinking unkind thoughts, you know, like race or gender or sexual orientation. I know that elliott.org loves its sensational headlines, but this one gives me a vague sense of unease.

    Maybe this would be better: “Is Your Internet Travel Search Engine Scamming You?”
    (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

  • bodega3

    I had a call last Saturday from a lady who booked her ticket with Kayak to China. She miss read her itinerary and missed her flight, never even going to the airport (12n flight she thought was 12midnight). Of course Kayak didn’t issue the ticket, it had directed her to an OTA, who she didn’t know but gave her credit card for that great bargain fare. However the OTA wouldn’t talk to her about the missed flight, even hung up on her twice, according to the lady, so she called me for help. Of course I was nice to her but I want to say WTF did you use a company that you didn’t know and you didn’t check into? I haven’t a clue to what happened after our chat, but jeez louise, was saving a few dollars worth all that?

  • TonyA_says

    Now let’s take a look at skyscanner for the same dates.

    If I was really desperate, maybe I’ll follow the link to faregeek for $1071.11.
    But I wonder how much trouble I would be in after reading their reviews at sitejabber.

  • bodega3

    Sitejabber? How exciting to see you mention them….personal reasons :-)

  • TonyA_says

    They seem to be an excellent site to dig up scams and the like.

  • TonyA_says

    In my skyscanner sample below, they provide a link to faregeek.
    I go to faregeeks site and look at its contact information.
    It has this.
    USA / Canada Postal Address:
    Faregeek Inc, 1000 N West Street, Suite 1200 Delaware – 19801

    But a simple google on the address, reveals that the address belongs to:
    Regus Virtual Office in Delaware.
    1000 N West Street, Suite 1200, Wilmington, Delaware, 19801
    Link: goo dot gl/z5sDN

    Why would I buy from anyone with virtual company address.
    At least you can walk in a brick and mortar travel agency :-)

  • bodega3

    Price, price, price. Nobody cares until something goes wrong.

  • TonyA_says

    I practice Least Cost POS in my profession. Have been doing it for a while even before routehappy’s existence. It actually is very easy to do. My GDS allows me to price the itinerary in any country I want and it will display it in USD equivalent. So if ticketing is much cheaper in another country, I tell my clients where they can book it. That is the beauty of charging a consulting fee (as opposed to a ticket service charge). I do not need to issue a ticket. I’m paid for my knowledge, in this case :-)

    I also want to add that POS is not always an issue. Sometime clever routing is better. Good Luck.

  • TonyA_says

    I would venture to say the Expedia is probably much safer to book with compared to others in the skyscanner favorite list.

  • TonyA_says

    My guess is dodgy agencies are on the list.
    It’s not just POS (Point of Sale) as you noted. Expedia can ticket in at least 24 countries. All you do is pick the correct flag in the bottom of the page.
    Kayak can do something similar. Change the flag at the top right of the page.
    I automate POS searching myself but that is a different story :-)
    But I have to believe, many of these smaller vendors are either discounting their price by giving away part of their commission (or marking up net/bulk fares less), or are hiding a fee somewhere in the sales process.

  • TonyA_says

    If you like doing that, then I suggest you use hipmunk since you can use a partial set of ITA’s routing language in hipmunk.
    Below (pic) is how to tell hipmunk to route LAX to JNB via JFK.

    You can use different wildcards to tell hipmunk where to make a connection.
    To force a connection in airport XYZ
    JNB::XYZ 1 connection in XYZ
    JNB::XYZ? 0 or 1 connections in XYZ
    JNB::XYZ* 0 or more connections in XYZ
    JNB::XYZ+ 1 or more connections in XYZ
    JNB::~XYZ 1 connection not in XYZ
    JNB::X 1 connection in anywhere

  • VoR61

    Yes, I know, but this was not that. The TA (local in our town) simply did not find the cruises. There were a number available in our time frame with the stops we wanted and they had enough inventory.

    This was our first foray into the use of a TA, and it was a disappointment. That is NOT to paint all TAs with the same brush …

  • VoR61

    Kayak “provided” both legs, just not when I searched for flights from start to finish. I had to ask Kayak for one leg and then the other. So it was Kayak both times. That’s why I can say that I believe it to be a search engine issue …

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    According to the article the airlines are not loading all of the inventory into the site(s). If that is correct, you could search 100 different OTAs and mega search engines and still potentially not obtain all available fares.

  • gritchie

    Tony,
    Thanks for the tip. I just signed up.
    Grant

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, I did. Not sure how that’s relevant. A consumer shouldn’t have to be overly tech savvy to be dealt with fairly when buying a plane ticket in the same way that you shouldn’t have to pull out an app to figure out the interest rate on a loan.

  • TonyA_says

    Well an OTA will display only what it can sell itself, whereas a meta-search site will display only those it can be paid a click fee by many OTAs. So, theoretically, the meta-search site will display a lot more options.

    There are many airlines (i.e. LCCs) that do not even participate in GDS so the OTAs and meta-search sites do not necessarily include them on the search.

    I guess everyone can choose there own bias.

  • TonyA_says

    Can you be more specific. What is the origin, destination and via-connecting airport?
    Did kayak sell you ONE ticket or separate tickets (hacker fare)?
    Thanks

  • VoR61

    The tickets were purchased from the airlines (United and Frontier), not Kayak. I just used it for the search. And when I entered just the origin and destination, Kayak presented a number of options for connecting flights (non-stop is not possible), but none showed Frontier as a possibility. So I decided to search Kayak for the one leg to DIA, and then the other from DIA to the final destination, which then showed the Frontier flight.

    I have seen this before on the Frontier web site itself. Origin and destination are served by Frontier, but you have to book as two separate legs. However in this case, only the second leg was Frontier so it wouldn’t be their site (Frontier) at fault.

    I would have thought that if Kayak could show me A-B and B-C as options separately, it would then show me A-B-C when I asked it for options to get from A-C.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes there is a tendency for both OTA and metasearch site to sell one ticket from an airline rather than splitting a roundtrip into 2 separate different airline tickets.
    If there is no advantageous Roundtrip fare, I always break my DOMESTIC USA search into 2 oneways. That way the search can optimize savings by direction.

  • VoR61

    Understood. However, Kayak regularly shows trips using multiple airlines, so why not in this case? A bug? Perhaps …

  • TonyA_says

    Not really. The search engine did not want to add the 2 fares together since it needed separate tickets.

  • VoR61

    If that is true, why does Kayak EVER show multiple airlines?

    And, BTW, booking 2 one way flights has not worked out for me except for Southwest. Always more expensive, as was the case for this trip. It was a one way for $900, but when I left the default of round trip it showed $1450, which was only $725 one way. I suspect it is this way for nearly every airline but Southwest.

    I was booking for two people who needed only a one way. And, no, I’m not a TA.

  • bodega3

    Fares are not the same in every market. Sometimes there are one way fares, as I am currently finding for a ticket and in other markets, the best fares have to be booked as roundtrip in one reservation. That is one issue with booking on the internet. You don’t see all this, just pricing and assumptions get based on that. Not all carriers will interline. By breaking a fare, you have to allow time to recheckin with the next carrier, possibly deal with security again and of course if you check luggage, you have to claim it from the first carrier and recheck with the second, plus the extra luggage fees.

  • LFH0

    Greyhound Lines is very good at that, never having an arrival or departure at “12:00.” Everything is either 11:59 or 12:01 (along with “a.m.” or “p.m.”) so a reasonable cannot be confused.

  • LFH0

    That’s also good advice when booking tickets on Greyhound Lines. Many of their tickets are refundable if unused (less 20 percent), but partially used tickets are not generally refundable. Thus, and unless there’s a round-trip discount, two one-ways offer greater flexibility as to changes in travel plans.

  • LFH0

    In the pre-aviation days, fares almost always varied by distance alone, and fares were easy to enforce since a given amount of money would buy transportation only so far until you were thrown off the train or coach at that point. Routes were fixed (either rails or road), and even if there were a cheaper fare to a more distant point, the train or coach would pass through the intermediate point, for which tickets to or from points beyond were always honored.

    In the early days of aviation most routes were linear, making multiple stops across the country like the railroads, but today they’re not. Most everything is point-to-point, and so it has become much easier for the airline pricing analysts to not base fares on distance. No longer is there a significant possibility that people will bale out of a through flight at an intermediate point. And because fares are now based on competitive market forces, and are no longer distance-based, there are all these possibilities and schemes to take advantage of lower fares on some routes compared to other routes.

    While a portion of the inordinate amount of time required to ensure that the most economical choice is made is caused by rapidly fluctuating fares over time, I imagine that some of that research time is probably based on looking at clever routings for which lower fares might be available because of the absence of distance-based fares.

  • bodega3

    BINGO!

  • TonyA_says

    Kayak does show separate ticketed journeys – one way each airline. I think they call them hacker fares.
    Multiple airlines for them means INTERLINED flights but on one ticket per journey.
    But you need to understand Kayak MIGHT likely only do hacker fares if they (the whole journey) will be ticketed by one vendor. Sending you to two different vendors for one journey could be very confusing. In your case maybe unless one vendor was selling both the UA and F9 ticket then fine. Otherwise you may have to search each direction independently so kayak is free to choose a vendor for each direction.

  • TonyA_says

    FYI, kayak will not break a “leg”. That is too risky. What Kayak will do is to split a roundtrip into 2 oneways.

  • TonyA_says

    The airlines follow the same rule (at least they used to).
    They do not schedule a flight at noon or midnight. Usually about 5 minutes buffer before or after.

  • TonyA_says

    Hi, you really need to read this fantastic research done by Partick Surry of hopper. I hope Chris Elliott reads it, too.
    bit dot ly/1sN1dvz

  • bodega3

    Yes, it is just some people don’t bother to pay attention to am or pm!

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah but it’s so funny the poll seems to think the government can regulate and cause search perfection.

  • TonyA_says

    I have had passengers show up in the late morning for a 1205AM flight. They think it is noon. :-)
    To avoid this we tell them to show up the night before.
    Many flights to Asia depart USA 1205AM to 1255AM.
    That’s my main market so we had to figure out what to do to avoid the confusion.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Ummm, I fail to see the problem. If I’m booking a $2K+ trip, you can bet I’m going to spend at least an hour on line over several days to get what I want at the best fare. Don’t see why there should be more regulation; what’s needed is some common sense.

  • LFH0

    Some interesting stuff there. I’m not so sure I agree that there really is that much of a correlation between price and average household income (those scatter diagrams are not all that persuasive), but I do think he’s on-point as to population density and competition. All of the research I’ve seen has shown that large metropolitan areas were the greatest beneficiaries of deregulation, while rural areas ended up paying more. Moreover, I would suggest that density and competition are themselves correlated (more competition exists in denser markets), and therefore they’re not really independent variables –they’re measuring the same thing. The distance factor plays in somewhat, but much less so than the mutually-dependent variables of density and competition. Distance explains cost only where there’s great disparity in distances being compared. Good stuff here.

  • VoR61

    Hacker fares: what a TERRIBLE label!

    So, if I understand your statements, Kayak will show multiple airlines for a route ONLY if they or Priceline, or Expedia or ????? will sell both segments EVEN though I click their link to the airlines’ sites.

  • TonyA_says

    I think hacker fares appear only if the SAME vendor will sell the separate tickets of different airlines for the WHOLE JOURNEY.
    I could be wrong but that is my observation. I’ll pay closer attention and document it next time.

    I made a test in Kayak for a route we fly regularly. Note it is for White Plains to Little Rock, HPN-LIT 17JUL to 26JUL.
    If we search for the whole roundtrip journey, Kayak prices it at $436. But if we price each direction separately, look what we save — $30 per person.

    So why no hacker fare here? Maybe because each fare was being sold directly by their respective carriers. Maybe, No OTA was willing to put them together for cheaper.

  • bodega3

    Days?

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    you cannot regulate bias !!!!

    Bias is a fact of line in everything we do.

    Even if you tried to regulate it, very easy for someone to get around it.

    Remember also that regulation, costs someone & it’s usually the consumer !!!

    Many airfares can’t even be found online.
    Eg.
    Many airfares ex Australia, flying out on one airline & coming back on another, can’t be found via online search engines.
    In OZ, they are often called net fares & only published fares make it to online search engines.
    We fly to USA regularly & fares we usually get through a traditional travel agent are much cheaper, especially in peak period, than ANYTHING ONLINE.
    Last Xmas, agent gave us a cost based on payment within 24 hours (by either cash or card) & looked online & it was AU$1004 cheaper per person, than online on very similar but not exact itinerary (same dates, same flight in one direction, but codeshare equivalent in other direction)

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    IATA is very quickly becoming irrelevant.
    LCC’s & ULCC’s are taking over.
    Cebu Pacific, just launched SYD/MNL, an 8 hour flight & launch fare was AUD$99 one way, which was basically a free fare & you pay the taxes (it costs AUD$55 in departure tax, (which is about USD$52) to depart Australia & you get absolutely nothing at all for it, just a fed govt tax + there are other silly security taxes & fees for “privilege” of using the privately owned airport terminal.
    Airports seem to be the only real money makers these days in aviation industry, at least in OZ.

  • bodega3

    NO IATA is not becoming irrelevant.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    IATA is so 20th century & soon it will die, as no airline will take ANY notice of it.

  • bodega3

    Here is the list of IATA member carriers
    http://www.iata.org/about/members/Pages/airline-list.aspx?All=true
    As you can see it is an international list. I don’t think your comment is incorrect, but one you may have yet not shared by others.

  • bodega3

    There are over 200 carriers that are members of IATA. As a traveler, you should appreciate the safety measures that IATA members have to follow.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    & soon there will be none !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You can’t be a member of an organisation that no longer exists, as living in the past.

    It’s called progress.

  • bodega3

    We’ll see. I don’t follow your view.

  • Lindabator

    They show flights for each SEGMENT – do not break up per LEG — so Detroit – Chicago – Fargo on ONE AIRLINE — same connection on return on 2nd AIRLINE. But will NOT show you Detroit – Chicago and Chicago – Fargo ——- far too many problems splitting in that situation.

  • Lindabator

    In that case – the OTA may have had space held in a group, which was NOT available for public sale. Can happen.

  • Lindabator

    True – I always tell groups I speak with that they need to interview US travel agents the same they would a doctor or lawyer. You may visit a doctor who is considered the “best” at what he does, but he just doesn’t click with you, so NOT the best option for you. Same with a TA.

  • Lindabator

    AMEN – have always explained this VERY carefully to my clients – no nasty surprises later on!

  • Mark Carrara

    When booking for Hawaii I found it was cheaper to fly San Diego to LAX to Honolulu than direct from LAX. Same airline, same flight number

  • VoR61

    Seen this also. The mystery continues …