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Flights cancelled, showing up without a visa, leaving too early - why booking your own flights and t

Do you want all that stress when travelling? - Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay

At Adventure Coordinators we pride ourselves in being a full-service travel agency. We offer tours, insurance and for those who want we book airline tickets as well. And while we do not charge extra for any of our services, we make an exception for airline tickets. We are unapologetic about our $100 per ticket reservation fee. It allows us to find good routings at decent prices, make sure connections work, give you information about luggage allowance and other auxiliary fees, and we service your file right throughout your vacation.

For travellers it is money well-spent. But some people prefer to go it alone. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Consider three situations we encountered recently of people booking their own tickets.

A common occurrence is travellers who book their own ticket to Australia and do not know they need an Electronic Travel Authority to enter the country. We had such a case earlier this year when friends were proudly telling me know they scored a great deal on airline tickets by booking all kinds of one-way tickets. (The result was far from a deal but I wasn't about to bust their bubble). When I asked it they had applied for their ETA they looked at me as if I was joking but when they realized I wasn't, they looked rather pale in the face. I stepped in and got their ETA within five minutes.

Then, earlier this month we received a phone call from two clients who were about to travel into the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and who, upon arrival in Manaus, found out that their airline tickets were booked for the incorrect time: their flights were leaving prior to their tour returning to Manaus. We stepped in and managed to get their airline tickets changed to a later time.

The third case was potentially even more serious than the second. Clients had booked their own return tickets from Toronto to Johannesburg, followed by a second set of tickets from Johannesburg to Maun and back. On the way there they had booked an overnight in Johannesburg but on the way back the connecting time between the two tickets was only three hours. Given the two tickets were with different airlines, they would have to pick up their bags in Johannesburg, clear customs and immigration, check in for their flight back to Toronto and clear security. Three hours is then a very tight connection indeed, something we would not have booked for our clients. If you miss the connection, you are on the hook for the onward flight ticket, potentially a very expensive exercise.

To make matters worse, Air Botswana changed their flight times, leaving them with only two hours to connect.

On our advice the clients changed their Maun to Johannesburg flight to a morning flight leaving them ample time for their connection in Johannesburg. They sent me their new reservation but as they had booked their tickets through Expedia we decided to do some sleuthing for them. It turned out their tickets had not been revalidated to reflect the new booking, something Expedia should have done. Failing to do so can lead to delays at the airport which can potentially result in travellers missing their flight or a reservation being cancelled.

And the plot thickened. After several more schedule changes, the clients had had enough and asked for a refund on their tickets. Shortly after however their original flights were reinstated so they decided to keep their flights and rescinded their refund request. However, it appears Expedia works through a queue when they action requests and the cancellation request was higher on that queue than the "don't cancel" request. So their flights got cancelled after all.

Exasperated, the clients rebooked their Johannesburg - Maun flights still through Expedia but now on South African Airways. Had they booked with us, both their flights from Toronto to Johannesburg and from Johannesburg to Maun would have been on the same file, which would have meant a smooth transfer of luggage. But because they booked with Expedia, their flights were split over two files which means they still have to clear customs and immigration, retrieve their luggage, check in for their next flight and clear security.

These are just three examples where working with a good travel agency like Adventure Coordinators will give you the information, service, smooth travel and peace of mind you need. It can potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Think twice before booking your own flights - like with home renovations, financial decisions and medical procedures, if you do not have all the facts, information or know-how, some things are better left to professionals.

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