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Recently, I tried to use flightfox, as I have read that they are much cheaper than other websites. Before proceeding with my booking however, I was faced by the fact that I had to pay a $49 fee before even seeing any flight options.

Is there a guarantee that flighfox will be cheaper than other services, and that I will end up saving more than what I will pay as a fee for the service?

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flightfox refunded my money a year ago, when I found the cheapest flight myself – greg121 May 24 '14 at 18:10
I would not trust them as they fired most experts, and refund rules are not clear. – user4010 May 25 '14 at 23:04
@user4010 can you provide proofs for these "accusations". You're not very clear really ;) – Adrien Be Jun 23 at 16:14

5 Answers 5

up vote 21 down vote accepted

As a former Flightfox 'expert', this has changed over time. For a while, if you paid and ran a contest, and they couldn't beat your price, you could request a refund (if you proved you had a lower price), and you'd get your money back.

Then a few months back they changed their model and shut out most of the experts, changing the remainder to 'travel consultants'. The idea being instead of having a bunch of people throw prices at you, you'd get one of their best people working with you to find the lowest price.

Odds are, you're going to get amazing service. When I was competing as an expert on the site - and I consider myself reasonably good at finding flight specials, I was in awe at some of the prices some people were managing to find. I'd use the site to get other experts to beat my prices for my own travel as well. They're seriously good.

Now the terms specify:

On Flightfox, travel consultants (the "Experts") try to build you the best trip itinerary in exchange for a fee. You pay this fee for services rendered. If you are unhappy with the service, you may request a refund from your expert. Your expert holds full discretion to approve or decline refunds.

So there's no 'guarantee', and there's always a chance that you'll find the absolute cheapest fare. Nobody can promise to beat every single price. But if you're unhappy or they really can't beat you, it's in their interests to refund. In the past when I used it and they couldn't beat a YVR->SFO return flight of mine, they refunded it.

I'd probably still use them for a complex trip. They're amazing. However I now compete on (see referral link in my profile if interested) as Flightfox has shut a lot of us out, which is disappointing. I've met the founders and like them and really support the site - as an 'expert' I'll use darjeelin, but as a customer, I'd still use flightfox. It's a great solution.

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Todd from Flightfox here.

I'd like to explain our major recent improvements, particularly the details of our price guarantees, to answer the original question.

It's true that many things have changed with our format, policies, guarantees, processes, etc., over the past couple of years. These changes come from constantly trying to improve things for customers while keeping the system fair and balanced for experts too.

I enjoy working on this problem, which is why my responses can get pretty detailed. You can read about our efforts to optimize for customer satisfaction on our blog. You can also see our real-time 30-day avg. customer satisfaction rating on our home page.

(FWIW, that's the only metric we use internally: our customer satisfaction rating. Our average rating is over 9/10 and over 50% of our customers provide a rating. Both are industry records and we're completely transparent with how we calculate our average rating.)

Regarding our price guarantee policy:

We guarantee to beat your quote (or retail prices) by more than our fee.

The "beat your quote" scenario is easy to calculate: you provide a quote and trip preferences, and we beat your quote within your trip preferences by more than our fee, or your money back instantly no questions asked.

(As other answers confirm, we refund quickly without question.)

If you do not provide a quote, we use the best retail price we can find. There's never been an argument with customers during this new policy over what we use as a retail price. We know when we're beating retail prices; it's not even a question for us.

We take anywhere from 2 to 24 hours to conduct a truly exhaustive search, depending on the complexity of the trip.

This policy is vastly different to our previous policies. While in theory it seems simple to guarantee savings, it was difficult in practice because the concept of "savings" can be pretty subjective, especially if the customer does not provide a quote. We've now solved this.

Most complaints you see on this thread refer to our previous policies. In the very beginning, if the expert conducted a truly exhaustive search, we said they should be paid. But that was naive. Instead, we had to engineer the process to guarantee value. Sure, this wasn't popular with our experts, but it was necessary. We've now found a great balance and everyone is happy with the value aspect of our service.

Although this sounds negative, a positive byproduct of getting value right is this:

  • Most, if not all, complaints are from free searches (no fee charged)

What this represents is a shift from "value" being the main issue to "experience" being the main issue. That's a massive win for us (though no rest for the weary). It means virtually every customer that pays gets good value.

Take @Saabi on this thread for example. He wanted us to find him business class flights SYD-BRU for AUD2k (USD1.5k). His expert worked his ass off, but couldn't hit his budget for his dates and preferences, so we did NOT charge him a cent. We provided a completely free search over many hours, but couldn't hit a budget that no one else could have hit either.

Don't get me wrong, his grievance is still real because our communication was sub-par (we should have given more frequent updates), but it represents a big shift in our offering because it's a complaint about a completely free search trying to hit an impossible budget.

Improving the experience is a tough one. There are very few real-time human-to-human service-based marketplaces on the web. Uber is one example, and they've almost nailed "resource planning", but we have timezones :(, and timezones make this problem particularly tough.

Unlike the value issue, I don't have answers for this one yet. I have a few ideas, such as streamlining the process to do a lot more of the required work in the initial consultation when everyone is still online. But we've tried a variation of that before and customers felt rushed. So we need to again find a balance that suits all stakeholders.

If you have any questions, please let me know here and hopefully I'll be notified and can respond to each one personally. We can act on ideas and suggestions very quickly and sometimes will have new features deployed in the same day they're suggested to us.


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Thank you very much for that detailed insight and answer. It's completely honest, never came across as necessarily just pushing your own service. – Ankur Banerjee Jun 25 at 0:52

Alright here is my experience and what I think of how customers are treated on flightfox.

I put my request in for a flight from from SYD - BRU (29/06/2015). I was without any say in it, given a guy as an 'expert' who read my request and probably just accepted it and slept on it. After 24 hours I get a message that he has started working on my flight and will get back to me in about an hour with an itinerary. 10 minutes later I get an email that he could not find anything for me and that I was on my own. No communication no emails nothing, just a refund. So i think how they work is, if they can find a flight they get your money just by searching on flight search engines, if they can't they give your money back.

Later I emailed the apparent founder of the website on the service. He did his search and from what he told me, the moron who was my expert could not work out that if I gave only one date on my request, that means it's a ONE WAY request. I guess you need another kind of expertise to understand that, which is common sense.

So the short of it, do not rely on these guys because you may be left hanging while the fares you found are gone too, like in my case. The best part is, now in every reply to my email the apparent owner kept forcing this idea onto me that I'm best to just buy the ticket I found myself, even though I wasn't even asking them for another try. I guess they just avoid any challenge and want to make easy money. So be careful if you don't have much time or if you see a good fare, just grab it, instead waiting for 2 days for these guys only to get an email back that they can't help.

PS: I'm willing to verify my claims via emails if anyone is interested.

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From their FAQ:

How much can I save?
Your expert will find you the lowest price available; that's our guarantee. Sometimes you will save $1,000s, but other times the best price will be an online published fare. In any event, you will be receiving the absolute lowest total cost for your described trip, travel advice, and peace of mind.

Are you as cheap as Kayak, Expedia, etc?
Yes, most often we're even cheaper. We can access all of their prices and in cases when they have the best price, we won't hesitate to point you there. Since we don't take any commissions, we can focus solely on building you the best trip at the lowest price.

So they pretend to find the lowest price, but they don't mention what happens if it's not the lowest one.

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Yeah, it's unclear in what sense this is a "guarantee". – Nate Eldredge May 24 '14 at 18:04

I've gotten tickets thru them 2 out of 4 tries in the last 3 years. They found deals I had no idea were out there. Saved me 50% of the price and a better route as well. The other 2 times they didn't find anything better than I did so they assured me that they would refund the finder's fee without any hassles. They did this and told me it was standard policy to refund if they couldn't beat my price minus the finder's fee. So I didn't end up paying anything those times but was assuredly still on a good flight I found myself.

There still a small enough company that their service is quick and responsive. Go with them!

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