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(applies to all travel agents, I'm just using FC as an example)

Flight Centre - the world wide travel agent, often boasts "lowest prices guaranteed". I've had trouble getting them to actually hold to this in the past, but generally if you can prove you can get the price elsewhere, like a print out of say, AirNZ's website with a price, they'll match or beat it.

Does anyone know if they'd be willing or able to match ITA's Matrix site? It gives prices, but doesn't always indicate WHERE those prices are available. If you took those prices and flight details along to a travel agent, like Flight Centre, are they able to find the flights for the same price, given all the flight details, assuming the flight is actually still available?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

ITA uses "published" fares, so any travel agent should be able to book them.

However, make sure that you've correctly set the "Sales city" to be a city in the country where you will be buying the ticket, as ticket prices can vary depending on where you purchase them. So if you set the sale city to be SFO, it's possible that an Australian travel agency will not be able to sell the ticket at the same price.

It's also helpful to give the section that is headed : "Fare construction (can be useful to travel agents)" to the travel agent. This will show how the fare has been "priced", and whilst it's not needed for simple itineraries, it can help for more complex ones where the trip is potentially being booked as 2 or more separate fares.

There are a few exceptions to the above, but they will generally be rare. eg, in some cases travel agents may choose not to sell a particular fare if they believe that certain components are not being priced correctly - for example, if the fuel surcharge isn't being correctly calculated, as it's possible for the airline to bill them for that after the fact. However these situations are extremely rare.

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good point on the sales city! – Mark Mayo Jul 26 '12 at 19:30
Welcome to 10K, @Doc! – Affable Geek Aug 1 '12 at 13:48

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