Thursday, September 1, 2016

Be Wary of Booking Your Travel Online: A Personal Story

A little warning about using Online Booking Websites.  I know many of you think that using online booking engines provides you with convenience and empowerment.  Alas, what you see may not be what you are really getting...and it might even cause you not to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Silversea Silver Discoverer
Yesterday I was arranging my airline tickets for my Silversea Silver Discoverer cruise from Singapore to Phuket, Thailand which is focused on exploring a number of the islands in the Myanmar (formerly Burma) archipelago.  (I will be writing an article explaining the trip soon...and if you would like to travel with me on this exotic and exciting itinerary, please do contact me!)

I researched the flights I wanted (sticking with Star Alliance carriers as my status provides me with significant perks) and found the "perfect" flights.  OK, there are not perfect flights flying home from Phuket, Thailand; especially the same day you disembark the ship, but let's say they were the best flights available. 

However, I wanted to use some of my American Express Membership Rewards points rather than paying cash for the ticket, so I went to the American Express Platinum Travel website.  (Yes, the Amex Platinum Card can be a good deal for travel agents too...and I can show you how to best benefit from it while still using Goldring Travel!)  But no matter how hard I tried, the flights I wanted were not displayed.  

Not only was that frustrating, the flights that were displayed:
  • Had more stops (ex. why would I want to stop in Taiwan, Japan or Hong Kong when there is a non-stop from San Francisco?), 
  • Took up to 10 hours more time (not only flying indirectly, but sitting in airports)
  • Were on older aircraft (ex. why would I want to fly on an old 747 when I could fly on a new 787 Dreamliner?) and, of course, 
  • Were many hundreds of dollars more expensive.
So I called and explained the situation to American Platinum Travel agent...Yes, I needed a live person!  She booked the correct flights and said there was a $39 fee for calling in.  

Wait a minute!  Amex was going to charge me $39 because I knew the Amex website was pushing me to more expensive and less desireable flights and was smart enough to call in?  Honestly, it didn't take much for the agent to say that "just this time" Amex would waive the $39 booking fee.  

But there is more to this experience than getting the best flights at the best price.  There is a bigger issue:
If you were considering this Silversea Expedition Cruise and were faced with 34 hours vs. 22 hours of total travel time (flights, sitting in airports, etc.) you might balk at even considering this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  
I was very glad to be my travel agent. I saved me (a/k/a the client) over 18 hours of travel time, $450 (or 45,000 points) and made the long distance travel experience for this incredible Silversea Expedition Cruise far more convenient and comfortable.  Oh, yes, and I could have saved myself a lot of time by not fighting with the online travel agency website!

If you would like more information or would like to book your Silversea or other exotic cruise, please give us a call:

United States:      (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia:              (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585

Or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.