I started out this research wondering if there were any tricks or traps for the average user booking flights on Airline websites. Then it got me thinking, with all the advertising – is it really cheaper to use Webjet to book than to go direct? Is Webjet cheaper?
So my original conspiracy was that as a logged in user of the airline sites, perhaps a Frequent Flyer – you might not see the same deals as someone visiting for the first time, or as an “unknown user”.
Not true. In all my testing, logged into both Virgin and Qantas Websites and then separately in a private browser appearing as a “first time visitor” I got the same prices every single time.
So then – with the future all about Google bringing things together, I checked Google Flights.
Most of the time, the “other” options were the same or slightly more than the airlines.
Then I thought about all the Webjet ads I’ve seen. Now looking back at them, they don’t promise the lowest prices – let me be clear there – but they do leave you with a sense that they do “airline deals” better than anyone.
Webjet’s big advantage is most certainly the ability to search all airlines in a single go. Problematically for them, Google has cut into their territory with Google Flights which does a great job of showing the pricing, but then simply sends you off to the relevant website, should you choose a travel agency or to go direct.
What I was shocked by though was how the prices seem the same if you were to compare, but you get a little sting in the tail with the booking fees being charged.
This is most likely a lesson for all those looking to use comparison sites – they have to make money some how!
Here’s how it stacks up.
Looking for a Sydney to Adelaide flight with Qantas in November. Here’s the Qantas flight I’ve chosen:
Here’s the same flight on Webjet:
You see this only once you’ve clicked through to “choose the flight” – that’s more than $30 in extras!
I figured it was different for overseas flights:
How does Webjet stack up?
Wohoo, a discount fare. Or is it?
Over $50 in fees.
The benefit of the price comparison is perhaps worth those fees to some, but what this shows me is that if you find a great price somewhere – perhaps just pop over to the Airline direct to get the same price. Airline staff are the ones at the airport, they’re more likely be able to help in a heartbeat if something goes wrong with the booking on the day.
Personally, I’d use Google Flights to check a few prices, and then book direct any day of the week.