Subject: Re: Low cost air tickets
<< I often read about agencyes on the net that they sell low fare fly tickets. My question is they are really convenient ? Is it safety buy by credit cards tickets on line ? Are there not declared extra charge, >>

Hi, Marco - my reply is written with the bias of someone who has been a travel counselor for 16 years, so know that up front. There are reputable discount ticket sellers on the internet, and there are unreputable ones. There are ones that give you exactly what you expect to get, others that rip you off or go bankrupt before you get your tickets. The question is -- how do you as the consumer know which is which? As a travel counselor, I usually hear the bad stories, because it is to people like me that people turn saying Please help me! once things go wrong. I know there are many other times that things work out great, but I assure you that there are horror stories. The only things that you sometimes don't get with a discounted ticket would be the ability to get seats assigned ahead of time, or credit for a frequent flier mileage program. Otherwise, once you have a ticket, yes, you get the meals, etc. just like other passengers. Important to know is that most every U.S. travel agency uses consolidators/discounters to purchase tickets for clients, and have done so for many years. I always check several of about eight companies that I have found entirely reputable and reliable over a period of years. I will not trust my client's money to any company that I do not have prior personal experience with and know to be legitimate. So, my point is, don't think your only alternatives are either an internet discounter or a regular travel agency ticket: travel agencies use discounters, too, but are in a position to know more about them than an average consumer can. And, I must add, often a regular ticket through a travel agency comes out to cost less than what either the agency or the traveler could get through a discounter.

Whether European travel agencies use consolidators/discounters, I do not know.

Things to make sure of if you deal directly with a consolidator/discounter - either by telephone or email: * Verify that the ticket price quoted is roundtrip. * Verify that the ticket price quoted includes the tax and any other fees, such as an extra charge for using a credit card. Often the price quoted is simply the base rate, and taxes, etc. can add $ 70-100. Many companies add a 3% charge for using a credit card. * You should be told what airline and what specific flights you are booked on. Ask also for a record locator, which the computer generates. Ask for a fax of the itinerary to be sent to you. * Ask whether you can get pre-assigned seats, and whether you get frequent flier mileage credit, if those things are important to you. * Ask many questions about the company: how long in business? where located? how long has the person you are talking to worked there? is the company bonded and insured? does your money go into a trust fund until after you have used the ticket? * Ask how long the ticket can be held - the companies that I deal with will hold the booking for 7 days without payment. * Ask when you will receive the ticket; answer should be very soon after you pay for it. *Very important: ask what the cancellation and change penalties are in case you unexpectedly have to cancel or change.

I hope this information is helpful, and wish I knew more about how the system works from the European side. Best wishes.

Sally Watkins