Beware Booking on Third Party Sites Like

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Booking flights or hotels through a third party site that offers you a slightly bigger discount than the others can be tempting, but you should always be looking for the catch.

A few weeks ago an extended family member reached out to me for help finding cheap flights to Alaska. He had set dates so my usual tips, such as waiting for a sale on Scott’s Cheap Flights or flying out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday to save money didn’t apply. But I did walk him through Google Flights, my personal favorite, for finding the cheapest airport, airline, and flight combinations. And because the trip was still several months away, tracking flights to see if the price dropped was an option.

But while we were talking he informed me was coming in $100 less than anything he was seeing on Google Flights. I didn’t know anything about JustFly but a brief glance at the site didn’t raise any red flags, so I told him to go ahead and book.

The next day I got a call. He’d recieved an email from JustFly telling him the ticket was still pending and he needed to call customer service. The reason? The cost of travel insurance had increased and they needed to charge him more for his ticket.

Except he’d already checked on and his itinerary was showing as confirmed, not pending. The JustFly email sounded phony to us both, so I logged into his account to see what was going on.

The first thing I noticed was that his trip was $250 more than he had first quoted me. Much pricier than what was showing on Google Flights. A closer look revealed not only were the flights pricing higher than other sites, but there was a $100 line for “taxes and fees” that wasn’t detailed.

So I tried pricing out his flights again. On Delta they were coming in at $639. On JustFly, the search results showed $540. When you selected the flight you were taken to the details page where the original price showed briefly, then the page refreshed and the flight was $659 with the mysterious $100 in taxes and fees. It happened so quickly that if you weren’t paying close attention, you wouldn’t have noticed the refresh.

And there was no notification to the user that the base flight price had increased. On reputable sites like Orbitz and Expedia, they won’t even let you book the flight immediately if there is a price increase. A notice appears saying the ticket is no longer available at that price and redirecting you to the search results to choose again.

It was within the 24 hour cancellation period so I recommended my relative cancel his JustFly booking and rebook for less on Delta. Apparently that process was a huge pain but he finally prevailed.

A good reminder to be extremely alert when booking a flight that is coming up much cheaper on one site than others.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with the site, do a quick search for reviews. If I had, I would have seen the BBB warning about JustFly.
  • Make sure the price you first see is what you’re actually paying. Check the taxes and fees to make sure you’re not the victim of hidden charges.
  • If you get emails indicating you need to pay more for a reservation you’ve already booked, do due dilligence or cancel immediately.
  • Check your reservation on the airline’s site to ensure the flight you think you’re booking has actually gone through.
  • Don’t use

What tips would you add?

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


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