I want to book a bus through a travel agency in Bangkok, Thailand and the agent quoted me a 20% booking fee.

For booking through a travel agency for bus, train or other tickets, what's a reasonable fee percentage? I am mostly asking for an order of magnitude, I suppose it varies.

  • I kinda feel like this matches price shopping, I'm putting on hold until we can make sure. – Mark Mayo Aug 1 '16 at 11:23
  • That's fair. The fact that it's not likely to change very fast (it's not like asking the price of a very varying bus or even plane ticket) seemed fine to me. – Vince Aug 1 '16 at 12:12
  • 1
    thinking about it, it's more the percentage you're asking. Sure absolute $ may change, but the percentage is unlikely. Reopening. Thanks! – Mark Mayo Aug 1 '16 at 12:19

How long is a piece of string?

Most bus fares in Thailand are under 500 baht, meaning even a 20% commission is only US$2-3. I've never even tried to book ahead, as I've never had a problem just showing up and getting on the next bus.

For train tickets, which are a far more limited resource (at least for sleepers etc) and can't be booked online (curse you, SRT!), around 200 baht plus credit card surcharges is typical. (2017 update: online bookings are back, although only for limited destinations.)

For airplane tickets, commissions are usually built into the price, the agent is highly unlikely to tell you how much but around 5% from the airline is typical. Commissions are a form of competition, so agents will push the airlines with the highest margins, and they may well add some extra margin on top! If you're booking straightforward point-to-point or return flights, you'll avoid all the commissions and get the best prices by booking online.

  • I came here to find out how long a piece of string is and am not satisfied. :( – npst Sep 1 '17 at 9:26

What it is worth depends on what is involved and what you are saving. In many cases the travel agency calls in the ticket reservation, then has to send a staff or courier to go get and pay for the actual ticket. So how much it would cost you in taxi fare and time is how much the service is worth. You can't assign an arbitrary percentage.

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