Expedia has finally joined its rival online travel sites in eliminating air travel booking fees. Back in March, the site eliminated the fees on a temporary basis, but now the lack of fees is permanent. They will still charge a $20 fee to book flights over the phone.
The Wall Street Journal notes that eliminating fees is a ploy to change the way that many peoplr use travel sites:
Right now, about 31% of people who spend time shopping with an online travel agency go to the airline’s own site to book, according to PhoCusWright, a travel research company. There is some evidence that the online agencies are retaining more of these customers since they began their no-booking-fee promotions, says Jake Fuller, an analyst at Travel Wise Research LLC. He noted that both Expedia and Orbitz said in recent conference calls to discuss earnings that airline booking volume had increased since the promotions started.
I generally use the big travel sites to see which airlines have flights going where I need them to at my desired time, and then I go to the airline’s Web site in order to eliminate a layer of customer service reps and often save some money.