Is it safe to book with smaller OTAs on Momondo?
You might have noticed, many of our lowest fares are often found on OTA (Online Travel Agent) aggregators such as Momondo (and sometimes Kayak and SkyScanner). If you’ve previously booked all of your travel directly through the airline, you might be wondering if it’s both advisable and reliable to book your flight with smaller, lesser-known OTAs whose fares are found on Momondo. To address this, I’ve put together this set of FAQs to give you my take on the matter:
1. What is Momondo.co.uk and how does it work?
Momondo, Kayak and better known websites like Skyscanner are Online Travel Agent (OTA) aggregator engines, or, more simply known as fare comparison sites. These websites act as fare price search engines by comparing dozens of booking sites (OTAs) for each query to identify which ones are offering the absolute lowest price for any particular flight.
Note: This is not dissimilar to what Google Flights does. However, while Google Flights compares only fares offered directly from the airlines and other major booking sites, such as Expedia and eDreams, these aggregators compare fares from smaller booking sites as well. They also include some routes, such as those with charter airlines, that Google Flights does not list.
2. Is it safe to book with these smaller booking sites?
This question comes up a lot and I remember how confused I was when these websites first began to pop-up. Here’s my take on the topic:
Based on my experience using OTAs and speaking with hoards of fellow travellers, you will not get scammed for your money in the sense that these agents will take your payment and refuse to issue a ticket. This just doesn’t happen and your bank card dispute system is there to rescue you in the case something sinister like this ever did occur (but it won’t!). Booking sites are lawfully required to issue a ticket for the price at which you made the purchase in order to process your payment. If you want to be extra certain, simply google: “Booking site name + ATOL” to make sure they are ATOL Protected. You should see a verification similar to this:
That being said, some of these sites are known to try and squeeze a few extra £’s out of you – every now and then it’s possible they’ll call you within minutes of your booking to tell you that the price you booked at is “no longer available” and you must accept a refund or agree to pay a higher fare. If that does occur, don’t panic! Simply accept the refund, and go on to book with another agent offering the next best fare.
3. How are smaller websites/agents able to offer cheaper fares than Expedia or the airlines themselves?
It’s simple really – if you book through an agent and need to change your fare, they’ll charge you an additional, often hefty, fee in addition to what the airline charges for the change. This part of their business model allows them to offer lower airfare prices while charging less flexible travellers much more for any changes post-booking. It can also be said that their customer service is generally lacking and they tend to be less flexible with cancellations and other issues (this is why you’ll see plenty of negative reviews for almost all of them – even larger platforms like Expedia). It’s not very pretty, but if your travel plans are set in stone and you don’t intend to make changes, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
4. When should I book directly with the airline vs. booking with an agent off Momondo?
This just depends on your situation. For me, if my travel dates are set in stone, I’m more likely to book with an agent and save the extra cash, but here are my general guidelines for like-minded travellers:
Book with an OTA if:
- Savings exceed at least £20-£30 for a long-haul fare
- You are 100% certain you will be taking the trip on these dates
Book directly with airline if:
- You’re the type of traveller who is more likely to extend your trip later on or change plans
- The flight is with a budget airline, such as Norwegian, Thomson or Thomas Cook, all of which do not offer discounted fares to OTAs
Or if I still haven’t answered your questions, feel free to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to help.