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The hidden hassles of cheap airline tickets

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 in Moneyville, Quality of Life | 1 comment

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    August 22, 2012

Massive travel delays caused by a labour dispute at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport earlier this week appear to have eased up in time for the long weekend.Even if you buy your ticket through a cheap travel web site, you’ll still have to call the airline to  book a seat.


I fly several times a year and I’m very picky about where I sit. My budget doesn’t allow me to travel business class, but I always select aisle seats and I am prepared to pay for bulkhead or wing seats to get the added leg room.

When I was looking for direct flights to Seattle in October, I checked the Expedia website to see if there was an American airline that would give me a better deal than Air Canada. It turns out that Air Canada had the best priced flight leaving and returning at the most convenient times, so I went ahead and booked on Expedia.

I couldn’t figure out how to select seats, so I followed up with a telephone call to Expedia the next day. It turns out that I could have entered a seating preference but because Expedia does not have direct access to the airline booking system, I could only get a guaranteed seat selection by calling Air Canada.

Related: My airline ticket glitch cost us $1,000

The other option was to wait until check in 24 hours before the flight to try and  get two opposite aisle seats, which is our preference. But past experience has shown that most travellers have pre-selected seats so by then there would be little choice available. And if we wait until we got to the airport, all bets are off.

When I tweeted my irritation about this experience, one of my Twitter followers tipped me off to a slightly different problem faced by holders of the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite credit card. Cardholders get nine TD points for every dollar spent on travel purchasers made online through Expedia for TD in addition to Aeroplan points based on the number of miles traveled.

Related: Why I’m giving up on Aeroplan

But again, cardholders cannot book Tango Plus seats on Expedia which allows them to pre-select seats. To get seats on Tango Plus, travellers must use the call centre and pay $50. Since my friend refuses to pay $50 more, she books flights on the Air Canada website and loses the additional TD points bonus available by booking on Expedia.

I called Air Canada three times and after 50 minute on hold I was able to get the sets I wanted. But who needs the  hassle? The next time I check flights on Expedia, I’ll go directly to the airline’s website to book the ticket. In my book, you can’t beat one stop shopping.

Related: Flight overbooked? You can get a full refund

One Comment

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  1. airline ticket cheap

    very nice blog and thanks for sharing and giving these important tips that is very helpful in many situation when we book ticket in hurry and do not ask them any question to ticket Booker . very nice thanks….

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