LoyaltyLobby frequently covers both the advantages and disadvantages of Online Travel Agents (OTA) and today I’d like to remind our readers to always check the prices on local OTA’s for special fares.
I found myself in the situation that I needed to book a last minute flight to Hong Kong for this afternoon and Cathay fares on Expedia Thailand were great compared to the Cathay Pacific’s own website.
You can find such an example quite frequently, especially in Asia, where Expedia’s local country pages frequently offer rates that undercut the airlines own fares by a large margin.
I searched for a flight to Hong Kong leaving today, Monday Sep 5th and returning tomorrow.
Here is the result from the Cathay Pacific Website:
Having saved significant amounts of money in recent years by booking ‘Special Fares’ through Expedia Thailand I always check those fares as well and sure enough:
Remember that you always have to click all the way through to the end just to make sure it’s not ‘ghost inventory’ which would error out in the last step of the booking but in this case everything was ok.
Cathay sells their round trip in Business Class from Bangkok to Hong Kong for roughly 420 USD which is a good 300$ less that through their own website.
The same goes for the Cathay Pacific flights Singapore-Bangkok-Singapore which are available at reduced rates at both Expedia Thailand and Expedia Singapore.
Always check through local sites to try and see if a consolidator or special fare is available which is not offered through the airline’s own booking channel. This can also be extended to hotels who also often have special deals available through OTA’s such as Expedia. Keep in mind though that Elite Status Benefits often don’t apply for hotel booking through third party channels, an issue that doesn’t apply to flights.
For Mainland China, one can resort to Ctrip or Elong which have been known to local residents for a long time, offering highly reduced rates for both flights and hotels that might be pretty expensive through official channels in China (not so much anymore but for sure in the past).