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Worth using a travel agent??

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9fingers

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I'm not in the habit of exotic/expensive holidays - usually a cross channel ferry and my own car suffice so I have no experience with airlines & travel agents. But this time I have been talked into a mega holiday.

It looks like that I can go online and book the five flights that I want with a single airline (air New Zealand) for about £4500 direct with the airline and paying by credit card to get some sort of protection if the company goes 'wings' up. I will take out some insurance against cancellation.

Is there any point in going through a travel agent? I don't want any accommodation and due a bad experience SWMBO had with advance car hire through a travel agent (no car available at the other end etc and big claim against agent for non performance), I'll sort out my own car hire when I get there.

Am I likely to get a better deal with a travel agent (who will change a credit card fee but the airline might not?) or extra useful protection from the agent.

TIA

Bob
 

Harbo

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Unless it works out cheaper with a Travel Agent I would do your own thing especially if you are going to countries that speak English.
I have not been on a package for a long time now and never had any trouble.
Most airlines charge a fee for using CCs but I consider it a small price to pay for the benefits granted.
For Hotel bookings I use Expedia and have never found them to be beaten on price. Airlines I book direct.
Travel Insurance gets more expensive as you get older so it's worth shopping around. And make sure you are getting the correct cover for the countries concerned.
At the moment we are getting World Wide cover "free" with M&S.

Rod
 

Lons

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Hi Bob

We've done several now and with the exception of South Africa, I've always booked the main flights via Trailfinders and got a better deal than I could find doing it myself on the web.
You get full protection via ABTA plus there own insurance, and they work very hard to get the best deal. Any internal flights I always book myself.

I'd recommend that you don't do the trip without a break of say a couple of nights in Singapore or Hong Kong for instance as it's a hell of a flight otherwise.
My experience is that Quantas are better than BA and my brother recommends Emerates.
Don't buy cheap travel insurance. I did 2 years ago and got my fingers burned as it really wasn't worth the paper it was written on. My annual cover is now with LV.

I use Expedia and booking.com who I found are even cheaper. The car hire, i booked direct this time with a company called Gorentals and got a great price on a decent Toyota Camry. You'll love driving in NZ btw - the roads are very quiet (except around Auckland).

My email is bob(dot)lonsdale51(at)btinternet(dot)com

cheers

Bob

I've got loads of info on the parts we've visited so if you want any just pm or email me with an idea of which ares you have in mind and I'll pass on what I have.
 

paultnl

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If you use a travel agent to put together a package, they have a legal "duty of care" should anything go wrong and will do everything possible to bail you out of any problems. Booking separates gives you the potential nightmare situation of having to make multiple claims against several entities, airlines, hotels, car hire etc. with all of them trying to blame the other for your problems.

I built the Expedia contact centres for all non US operations and have heard too many horror stories to want to take the risk myself.
 

monkeybiter

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A couple of years ago we booked 10 days in Cairo Sofitel through Expedia and they buggered it up. Everything else I've booked directly with airlines and accomodation via various sites, comparing to find the best deal, and haven't had a problem. According to wikipedia Expedia were fined last year for misleading.
 

devonwoody

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My experience has always been to buy flights direct from adverts teletext etc. and at the last moment before closing the deal say you want a car hire and then go cold on the flight offer, its amazing what car hire offers come up.
They dont want to loose the deal.
Also sometimes got the first night hotel free or very cheap.

I also ALWAYS booked the budget price car and most times going to collect the car on arrival they upgraded me and I never would pay the higher rate, example Ford Mustang, Pontiac sunbird etc. etc.

Examples to make you weep.

New York, £199 return with fly drive.
Sydney £245 return with fly drive (that one we had to fly the next day)
Couple of other Oz trips with nice stop overs and accomodation thrown in also.

I still reckon you can get NZ at around £500 return plus a car at a silly price if you are Yorkshire born .
 

9fingers

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Thanks for all your responses.

We are planning a stop over for several days on the west coast of USA for several days on both legs of the journey.
I have lodged an enquiry with Trailfinders to see what they come up with.

The fares I'm looking at are Premium Economy as I don't fancy cattle class for long haul and price is not a primary concern but avoiding pay more than I have to for a given ticket is!

Car hire does seem to be a bit of a lottery especially as we want to arrive and depart from different Islands in NZ. Good tip to use that as a bargaining chip though.

Not sure if booking direct with airlines get automatic ABTA cover?

I'll only be advance booking hotels for each landfall first night as we want the freedom to follow our noses in both US and NZ so I'll look up the hotels both direct book and via Expedia and similar. Years ago in the US we got very good deals on motels just by booking ahead 1 night via the place we were just leaving or by picking up discount vouchers as we travelled.

Bob L - thanks for your email addy, once I have the framework travel booked, I'll be in contact for a few 'must see' destinations.

Cheers

Bob
 

RogerS

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Personally I don't see where the added value is in using a travel agent. If you book a flight directly with the airline then if there is a problem then you are there on the spot with a representative of the airline at the airport in front of you. Getting on the phone to Joe Soap Travel Agent back in the UK (at midnight UK time) isn't really going to be that much help.

We've just arranged our trip to Japan. All hotels have been booked directly with the hotels. You also get much more information as to the type of room you are getting so you can make an informed choice. Out of curiosity just checked Expedia for the same hotel/period/room and the rate is about 25% more. That's not to say that in some circumstances, Expedia might be cheaper.

Flight directly with BA...well, have to use up all those BA Miles (sorry, Avios...what a naff name that is) somehow - even if it means travelling comfy class :D
 

gardenshed

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9fingers":9b01msql said:
The fares I'm looking at are Premium Economy as I don't fancy cattle class for long haul
Bob
It's good that your all for referring all the other passengers on your flight as CATTLE :roll:
 

9fingers

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gardenshed":3bgggd79 said:
9fingers":3bgggd79 said:
The fares I'm looking at are Premium Economy as I don't fancy cattle class for long haul
Bob
It's good that your all for referring all the other passengers on your flight as CATTLE :roll:
Apologies if my choice of words offends anyone; that was not my intention.

'Cattle Class' is an expression widely used to describe economy/package holiday type packing density in aircraft for many years.

Bob
 

marcros

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make sure that you get some travel insurance that covers you from when you buy the tickets- just in case you are ill/injured etc before hand after you have paid your money. There can be all sorts of clauses that exclude you if tickets are already bought.
 

marcros

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9fingers":2oaq9oow said:
gardenshed":2oaq9oow said:
9fingers":2oaq9oow said:
The fares I'm looking at are Premium Economy as I don't fancy cattle class for long haul
Bob
It's good that your all for referring all the other passengers on your flight as CATTLE :roll:
Apologies if my choice of words offends anyone; that was not my intention.

'Cattle Class' is an expression widely used to describe economy/package holiday type packing density in aircraft for many years.

Bob
I sometimes wonder whether people go out of their way to be shocked/offended by things.

Give me strength... (hammer)
 

9fingers

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SWMBO got some prices from our local travel agent this morning.

All flights with Air NZ going via Los Angeles including different arrival and departure islands in NZ

Air NZ direct £2285.56 each no credit card surcharge

Coop travel £2434 + 2.5% (£60.85) card surcharge

A total of £209.29 each extra.

I'm still waiting for Trailfinders to come back to me but at least they don't impose a card surcharge according to their website.

It does surprise me that in some sectors of business, credit card surcharges appear to be accepted whereas in others such as petrol, supermarkets etc, the credit card costs are absorbed into the selling prices?

Bob
 

devonwoody

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6 years ago I had flight for two people to Perth W.A, three day stop over then Brisbane, change to Christchurch, 2 week motorcaravan hire the back to Sydney and on to Perth and return to London.

All in £1500. Went and had an heart attack and the travel insurance repaid me £1200.

You must have been quoted a first class fare or all hotels?
 

RogerS

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devonwoody":15wjbneb said:
6 years ago I had flight for two people to Perth W.A, three day stop over then Brisbane, change to Christchurch, 2 week motorcaravan hire the back to Sydney and on to Perth and return to London.

All in £1500. Went and had an heart attack and the travel insurance repaid me £1200.

You must have been quoted a first class fare or all hotels?
Where's the wink-eye, dw? Don't be so sarky...just cos you've got a free TV licence. :wink:

Have you not heard of inflation, dw? Price of fuel? Our flight to Japan cost us over £500 each in fuel surcharges. If Bob got that price then considering the distance flown and if it includes taxes and fuel surcharges then he's got a damn good deal.
 

Harbo

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Yes prices have gone up tremendously year on year!
And booking last minute for flights is not the way to go - prices go up to stupid levels to catch the desperate to fly folks? Book early to get the best prices.
I've taken a gamble on Premium Economy a few times being a member of BA's Executive club, they often give you the offer for a very big discount a few weeks before take off - but it is a gamble and maybe not worth risking for a very long flight.

Rod
 

9fingers

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I did have a breakdown at one stage and fuel surcharge was a healthy lump as was UK taxes.

The figures I quoted were for premium economy flights only. No car hire and no accommodation.
Travel insurance is a joke though. we both have medical conditions (diabetes, type 2 and joint replacements due to arthritis) both stable and insurance for single trip was £550. So I'll not be taking that up! If sh*t happens we will pay up ourselves.

Interested to see that very few companies offer cover for longer than 31 day trips and only give £1-2k cancellation cover.

Bob
 

kirkpoore1

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9fingers":3bg2qpgl said:
Thanks for all your responses.

We are planning a stop over for several days on the west coast of USA for several days on both legs of the journey.
...
Cheers

Bob
Gee, Bob, if you want to stop in St Louis on the way back I can set you up with some primo shop tours, enough electrical gizmosity to make your hair stand on end, and the best Italian food west of the Mediterranean (no matter what those New Yorkers say).

Kirk
 

bosshogg

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Hi Bob, I once booked a package holiday through an agent to Majorca, because the flights were cheaper than I could get direct with the air service company. The holiday agent was shocked when I told him/her (I can't remember) that I did,t want the allocated accommodation, as I had my own already booked, but that was it and good holiday was had...food for thought!

Cheers...bosshogg :)
 

Harbo

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Bob I would think seriously about not taking out Holiday Insurance especially if you are visiting the States where cover up to $10m is required!
There's been lots of cases in the news where people haven't bothered and have appealed to friends, the Public etc to get them home. The figures required would bankrupt most people?
I do not know about NZ but in most countries health care is very, very expensive and not free?

Have a look at the M&S offer - it covers most existing complaints without additional fees.
It covers both of us World Wide for £15/m plus lots of free goodies.

Rod
 
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