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Should I book with a travel agent?

Many travel agents have excellent customer service and policies.  However, be wary.

When you buy a flight, some travel agents only make a provisional booking on their system.  This means they take your money and do not send your tickets (or e-tickets) to you right after you make your booking.  Some may hold onto your money until, say, a few weeks away from the flight, at which point, they will issue your tickets.  Until the travel agent buys your tickets from the airline (and then passes these onto you), you are not really ‘booked’ with your airline at all and not covered by your airline company’s policy for refunding or rebooking.  The airline must have issued your tickets to your travel agent for you to come under the airline’s policies.

Make sure you are happy with the policy – you will only be covered by the travel agent’s policy until your tickets are issued

Therefore, do your research before booking through online travel agents.  Read through your travel agent’s policy carefully regarding refunds, re-bookings and when tickets will actually be issued.  Make sure you are happy with the policy, as you will only be covered by the travel agent’s policy until your tickets (or e-tickets) are issued.

If your flight is cancelled, the travel agency may be very difficult to contact (inundated with similar requests) and/or it may take a long time (6 months is not unheard of) to issue your refund.  Check your credit/debit card’s policy regarding the timeframe for disputing a transaction, as you may feel the need to do so if your travel agency is taking too long to issue your refund.

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