How to Spot a Questionable Discount Ticket Seller

Travel agency tickets

Credit: Dan4th

It’s no secret that there are plenty of places to buy a plane ticket — credit card forms abound on the Internet and are quite happy to take your payment information.

Before you click “purchase” however you should remember that the cheapest ticket does not always equal the best ticket. There are pitfalls to saving $150 on that big RTW trip.

Before you pull the trigger you should always research who it is you’re preparing to do business with. Fly-by-night organizations are still an unfortunate reality on the Internet, the best way to spot them being the cost of their ticket – they’re typically a good deal cheaper than anyone else’s, potentially costing you infinitely more in the way of incorrectly or unissued tickets, nonexistent customer service attention, or having shady business practices, undermining a trip you had originally so painstakingly organized.

If you happen to be considering buying a rock-bottom plane ticket, the first order of business should be to research who you’re doing business with. And, should you have problems down the road, do you have recourse to your money?

Always do these things when considering buying from an ultra-discount ticket vendor, be they package RTW tickets or simple point-to-point:

  • Visit the company website’s “about” or “contact” section. Do they have multiple physical addresses, in multiple countries?
  • Ask for an IATA number. All legitimate ticket printers have one.
  • Google search the company name. Any strange reviews?
  • Read Yelp. Be sure to take these reviews with a grain of salt, however.  Review shills abound.
  • Read through their Better Business Bureau page. Do they have one?
  • If the business is located in California, check to see that they have a California Seller of Travel (CST) number.  This number indicates that the business has paid into a restitution fund as required by law.  While this fund only pays out to California residents, it’s a good indicator of whether or not the agency is legitimate.
  • Always pay by credit card. Credit cards often have a purchase protection insurance built in. If the airline tickets somehow do not materialize, you have the opportunity to deny the charges. (The big drawback to this is even if you’ve recovered the original ticket price, you may be left buying a far more expensive last-minute ticket.)
window to the world

Credit: Joey Parsons

The point is to have recourse to the money you spent on your tickets. Not all purchases will result in a hassle-free rendering of services so if the business looks questionable or has any conflicting information, perhaps look elsewhere.

We always recommend putting your confidence in a company with one central phone number, one email address and one main office, preferably with a dedicated customer service department for assistance after the point of sale.

What to do before you buy

When purchasing airfare with a booking engine online, take care to be aware of the name and reputation of the company actually issuing the tickets. Kayak and Expedia can drive you to overseas agencies that advertise the lowest fare. Even Expedia itself can be a nightmare if you’re trying to contact them after you buy your ticket.

When purchasing airfare from a brick and mortar agency or travel consolidator, find out where they’re located, when they went into business, if they’re a member of the Better Business Bureau, IATAN, and read a few past customer experiences.

If you end up buying from a questionable agency, receiving your tickets for the route you paid for often is not enough. There are ticket scams out there that can fool even the most dedicated airline employee. Some scams are only discovered if the passenger makes a date change. If the airline determines that the ticket is anyway fraudulent, you will be denied boarding (even after flying other legs on the same ticket).

In summary

Whether you’re assembling your trip piece by piece, on your own, or having experts put together a complex itinerary, the question of where to buy your tickets boils down to the reputation of the business selling this expensive commodity.

AirTreks has been in business 25 years and has been on the Better Business Bureau list since 1989. Over the years we’ve helped thousands upon thousands of satisfied customers achieve their traveling dreams. Your trust is our most cherished aspiration and that extra $150 you might pay over someone dubious will go a long way in keeping you in good hands along the way.