Several travel sites are scrapping booking fees to keep customers away from individual airline sites. Savvy customers currently research fares with travel sites, and then buy directly from airlines to avoid booking fees.
“Hotwire.com announced this week that it would drop its $6-a-ticket charge for airline reservations on both its “opaque” reservations (the bargain-priced fares that don’t let you know exactly what flight you’ve booked until after you’ve paid) and regular bookings through summer. Last week, Priceline.com announced it was suspending booking charges on regular airfares through Labor Day. (The deal excludes its opaque, name-your-own-price fares.) Fees range from $5 a domestic ticket to up to $9.95 for an international reservation.
And on Wednesday, Cheaptotravel.com, a sister site to Travelocity that launched in January and targets price-sensitive travelers, followed suit, dropping its $3-a-ticket fee through the summer. A fourth agency, TripSync, a niche site geared to business travelers, may have triggered the no-fee movement when it permanently dropped its fees in late March.”
The big players in the online travel world – Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity – are keeping their booking fees for the moment, but hopefully pricing pressure from the competition will help show them the error of their ways.