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I am very inexperienced traveler. I have a very basic question regarding booking flights.

On the Internet there are a few online agencies like Expedia, Kayak, Orbit. I don't really know what the difference between them is, they all seem pretty similar. I would appreciate if you could shed the light on it, what the difference is, etc.

Besides booking flights from an agent, I can book flights directly from the carrier, what's preferable?

I would like to consider my first example. I found a flight of SmartWings at a good price. On the site of SmartWings I found that 15 Kg of luggage can be transferred for free, on Expedia there was no information about free luggage, so I expect to pay for my baggage in the airport. This time I decided to book the ticket from Expedia, because as I understood they can cancel the flight within 1 day after booking, and just because I like to have the opportunity to make few steps back, I ordered from Expedia.

I'd like to know what's preferable, either to make an order directly from the carrier (SmartWings in my case) or from travel agency like Expedia, what are the advantages and the disadvantages of all of them.

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You can normally cancel a flight within 24 (sometimes up to 48) hours even if you book with the airline directly. –  Jonas Aug 10 '12 at 11:38
    
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Obviously the main criterion is the price for the flight, some agents can sell the ticket much cheaper than the airline. Having said that, many airlines (European at least) make sure their web site prices are comparable to the travel agencies.

When the ticket prices are the same, I usually buy from the airline directly, because (apart from some special promotions as you mentioned) it will be probably cheaper to cancel and/or change the details - agents always charge extra on top of the airline charges to do such things.

There are two types of online sites:

  1. Online Agents, like Expedia, who will actually sell you the tickets
  2. Comparison sites, like Kayak, who will query a few agents and all the airlines directly and compare the results.

When booking a flight it is usually best to consult websites of type (2) to get an overview of what the options are and of the prices. From there you can follow a link to a proper agent (1) or airline website to do the actual booking.

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Thank you very much for the answer, I see your point, I hope I'll not regret that I booked the flight through Expedia (I was just 10$ more cheap), by the way, according to Expedia they don't change any additional fee for change the flight or for cancellation. –  fog Aug 8 '12 at 9:35
    
@fog, you might be fine then! I definitely had to pay something like £25 per person to Opodo a few years ago. More annoyingly, this was not covered by the travel insurance, because they only covered cancellation and not associated agency fees... –  Grzenio Aug 8 '12 at 9:42
    
I called them right now, just to make it clear, if it's possible to cancel a flight. They said it's impossible to cancel a flight completely, just because airline company doesn't allow to cancel low-price ticket, but I can change a date for flight for 60 Euro, or choice another flight of the same airline company. –  fog Aug 8 '12 at 11:55
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@fog, you would most probably get the same terms and conditions from the airline directly. Don't stress too much about it though, just enjoy your trip! –  Grzenio Aug 8 '12 at 12:09
    
Cancellation fees depend on the fare rules set by the airline. Not on where you buy it from. –  Ankur Banerjee Aug 10 '12 at 9:28
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