How to choose/book a flight and which platform to use

The first thing to say is that there are many flight booking operating systems and the vast majority of them is valid.

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We’ve used several of them (Expedia, Momondo, Budgetair, Agoda, eDreams, Volagratis, Kayak, Skyscanner, Easyvoyage, etc.) and we’ve also often booked directly with the airline.

What online platforms are and how they work

First of all it must be said that these operating systems are not all the same:

  • some are online travel agencies (for example Expedia, eDreams, Volagratis) and, therefore, they often have additional “administrative” costs that are shown only at the chekout (hence they’re hidden during the search phase). That’s because they act as intermediaries between who makes the purchase and the airline company selling the service;
  • other platforms (for example Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo) act as a search engine and after selecting the flight you’re interested in, they just redirect you to the website of another operator where you can make the reservation. This other operator may be an online travel agency or the airline company itself.

At this point it should be clear that, if the cost of the ticket offered directly by the airline is the same, or slightly higher than the one displayed by an online travel agency, it’s better to book and buy directly from the airline.

What we do

50% of the times we book/buy directly from the airline and our suggestion is to subscribe to their newsletters in order to receive the latest promotions and save money.

For the remaining 50% we use Skyscanner’s search engine for the following reasons:

  • it’s free. Skyscanner gets commissions from partner websites (i.e. from airlines or online travel agencies), not from the people who use it to search and then buy;
  • it includes the main world airlines with various options: direct flight, one stop, two stopovers and the travel time of all the different options is visible;
  • it shows the lowest prices available, by selecting “Filter by” and then “From the cheapest” you’ll notice there are both airlines and online travel agencies;
  • it gives the chance to add different filters according to your needs: departure/return time, travel time, exclude some airlines (for instance if you’ve had negative experiences and you don’t want to fly with that company anymore) as well as the possibility to choose to see only eco-sustainable flights (flights with reduced CO₂ emissions), when available;
  • and last, if you don’t know when you want to leave and you don’t know where you want to go, you can just search 'everywhere' for 'the most convenient month' by entering only the departure airport.

How to search to compare costs

  1. Go to Skyscanner and search what you have in mind.
  2. Sort the results according to your preferences (for example the cheapest, the fastest, etc.).
  3. Write down the name of the airline, the dates chosen, the destination, the time of departure and the day of return and the cost of the ticket.
  4. Now go to the website of the airline that Skyscanner has suggested to you and search using the same parameters (if you change the dates or the destination, obviously the cost will change too).
  5. Make a comparison and see which one is the most convenient.

Let’s try it together

We choose to go to Venice for a weekend in the third week of June, leaving from Rome Fiumicino.

Let’s go to https://www.skyscanner.it/, enter the search data and click on “Search flights”. We sort the results from the cheapest:

We take note of the data: the cheapest flight from Rome Fiumicino to Venice is with Alitalia and leaves on the 19th of June at 1.30 pm and the cheapest flight from Venice to Rome Fiumicino is with Alitalia and leaves on the 21st of June at 6.35 am, the cost is € 105.00:

Now let’s go to https://www.alitalia.com/, using the same search criteria: from Rome Fiumicino to Venice on the 19th of June and from Venice to Rome Fiumicino on the 21st of June. We click on “Search”:

We select the cheapest flight suggested by Skyscanner: on the 19th of Juneat 1.30 pm and then we click on “Choose and continue”:

We now select the return flight on the 21st of June at 6.35 am and we click on “Choose and continue”:

We see that the cost of the ticket on the airline’s website is higher than the one highlighted by Skyscanner:

So let’s go back to Skyscanner’s result page and click on “See offers” next to the search result to see if it redirects us to the airline (Alitalia) or to an online travel agency:

In this case the first results lead us to online travel agencies and we can notice it, as when the offer comes directly from the airline’s website the logo is clearly visible:

We choose one of the online travel agencies, for example the first of the list, FlyUvet, whose costs seem lower than what we found on Alitalia website. We click on “Go to the website”:

Now we are on FlyUvet website (these websites look pretty much all alike) and we click on “Proceed”:

The page with the flight summary is loaded:

Right under the flight summary we see it automatically suggests the “recommended” flight, which has an higher price because the hold baggage is included:

But we click on our “Best price” flight and then on “Proceed”.

We fill in all the required fields (name, surname, address, email, etc.). We don’t select any insurance or other additional charges. Our goal is to verify the final cost of the ticket:

We accept all the conditions (privacy, data processing) and we select “I want to receive offers and discounts by email”. We then click on “Book and pay by tonight”:

Now here comes the final recap screen before the payment. We click on “Go to payment”. We choose the payment method, in this case we choose to pay with a Visa credit card and then we click on “Pay the trip”:

You’ll see that before entering the credit card data, or any other form of payment, the final cost (always) appears::

If you’re not convinced, you can cancel the order or close the page and it’ll expire after a short time:

Now we know that, in this case, FlyUvet doesn’t apply any agency fees, hence the cost of the ticket offered to us by Skyscanner (which brought us to FlyUvet) is lower than the one offered directly by Alitalia airline website.

The ticket will be sent to the email address you entered during the registration phase. You can print it or save it on your smartphone, or both. It depends on how you are used to.

Now a question arises: how is it possible that the airline offers a higher cost than an online travel agency?

This is possible because the travel agencies, all of them (online and not) and the airlines too, have a defined number of available seats (on the plane) that can be sold at a certain price (fare), afterwards, the remaining seats are sold at a higher rate. In our simulation we’ve seen that Alitalia has run out of seats at a lower rate and that Skyscanner has found for us FlyUvet which still has seats for sale at a lower cost (because it hasn’t sold them all yet).

Obviously the closer the departure date is, the more the fares increase because the number of seats at a lower rate are the first to be purchased.

When planning about a more far away destination, there’s another observation to be taken made: the cheapest rates aren’t always the first to be purchased. As when it comes to traveling for many hours, most people would rather shorten the time to get to their destination as soon as possible and pay a little more. For example, we prefer direct flights, so we don’t waste time at the airports between flights.

Do all the simulations you want but do not enter your credit card details or anything else unless you’re more than convinced of the purchase: if you do so and buy the ticket, then you must be aware that you can no longer go back.

Now you know what to do to be sure you buy the cheapest ticket to your destination! 🙂

Ciao da Cris e Marco del blog in giro in giro

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