It’s no secret. Sometimes, the airlines don’t always have the best fares. Online travel agencies like Expedia help travelers find cheap flights to global destinations, sometimes for even less than what’s available through the airline. But does that mean you should book Expedia flights?
The answer isn’t so cut and dry, but we’re here to give you an in-depth look at the pros and cons of booking your flights through Expedia. By the end, you’ll understand why some swear by it and why, for others, it misses the mark. So, into which group will you fall?
Table of Contents
- Is Expedia Good for Booking Flights?
- Expedia Flights: The Bottom Line
Is Expedia Good for Booking Flights?
Expedia provides travelers with a convenient way to find cheap flight fares. Users can quickly search and book flights via Expedia, often at lower prices than the airlines. However, booking with any third-party site has its drawbacks, and Expedia’s user experience has its pros and cons to consider.
7 Pros to Booking Expedia Flights
As part of the Expedia Group Company—its flagship company, in fact—Expedia has a lot going for it. With easy-to-use tools, travelers can take advantage of a host of perks when it comes time to book their Expedia flights.
1. It’s Convenient
Expedia is an online travel agency, one of the first of its kind. With so many years in the business, and so many other online travel agencies to compete with, like Priceline, it’s no surprise they’ve learned a thing or two about what works.
Drawing data from multiple sources, Expedia presents users with a clear view of flights available from several airlines at once, meaning you can quickly compare rates between flying one way to New York with United and American Airlines. It also offers a slew of filters, making it easier to narrow down your options based on the airline, the number of stops, flight times, and even whether a flight is refundable.
Expedia also offers Flexible dates, a handy dropdown that allows you to check prices for dates three days before and three days after your chosen travel dates. For those with a more flexible schedule, this is a nifty way to check for any possible savings that might be available if they adjust their trip by a few days.
Pro-tip: Have more flexibility in your schedule? Click your original departure date at the top of the screen for a pop-up calendar view with the lowest prices displayed for the entire month.
2. They Offer More Than Just Flights
Expedia’s convenience isn’t limited to their smooth flight search tools. The site is a one-stop shop for every part of the travel experience. Expedia searches cover everything: accommodations, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises. You can even use Expedia to search for tours and activities at your destination.
Similar to Expedia’s search engine for flights, the search tools are simple and easy to use, with filters to weed out items that don’t match your needs.
And suppose your next trip calls for more than just a flight. In that case, Expedia packages can help rack up savings by discounting all your expenses bundled together. So, if you want to snag a flight, book a cheap hotel room, and fill up your travel itinerary with fun activities, you can do it all—and keep track of it all—under one roof.
3. It May Be Cheaper
Travel is expensive. That’s why anything that can verifiably help travelers save money is huge.
Rather than booking directly through the airline, doing it through Expedia can save travelers money. In many cases, Expedia can offer flight tickets cheaper than the airlines. Because third-party services often get a bulk discount, they can sell their flight deals for less than the average ticket prices. Put an asterisk here, though, because the big caveat is that this isn’t always the case.
Pro-tip: Always compare prices between Expedia and the airline website to verify if the ticket is cheaper.
Expedia truly shines in offering deals for their bundled discounts. You can unlock huge savings when you book several of your travel expenses together. For example, Expedia claims travelers save an average of ten percent by just adding a hotel to their Expedia flight booking. And booking on the app offers an even better chance at discounts, with up to forty percent savings.
4. You Can Use Points
As one of the largest OTAs in the business, we’d be surprised if Expedia didn’t offer its members a loyalty program. But, fear not, the Expedia Rewards program does exist, and it can help you earn points and save money on travel.
It doesn’t take much to get started with the Expedia Rewards program. The first step is creating a free account to join. On top of earning Expedia points with every flight purchased through the website, you make even more by booking your hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages, and activities. You can then turn around and use those Expedia Rewards points when booking more travel, including flights.
Expedia Rewards discounts include special member prices, like ten percent off deals and VIP access for select hotels. In addition, Silver and Gold members of the Expedia Rewards program can also enjoy perks like free breakfast, spa credits, room upgrades, and more.
You can also earn points and miles with any airline frequent flyer program or travel reward credit card to maximize your rewards. That means you can still gain credit for flights booked with Expedia and earn loyalty points on some purchases with airlines you frequently use for travel.
Pro-tip: Complete your bookings on the app to earn double Expedia Rewards points.
5. They Have Payment Plans
When you’re knee-deep in trip planning, travel costs start piling up. If you don’t want to drop several thousand dollars on your next trip all at once, we don’t blame you. Fortunately, Expedia offers monthly payment plans to help you spread out your travel costs into smaller, more manageable installments.
After testing out payment plans for hotel bookings in 2016, the Expedia Group Company expanded to offer similar payment plans for flight and hotel packages booked on Expedia.com.
With special “book now, pay later” deals on accommodations, travelers can reserve their hotels but put off paying in full until their trip. Meanwhile, travelers can use Affirm for flight and hotel packages to pay for their vacation with an installment plan that works best for their budget.
6. They Offer Travel Insurance
Expedia allows travelers to purchase trip insurance for all aspects of their travel. The trip insurance covers everything from Expedia flights to Expedia cruises to, well, you get the idea.
Expedia flights come with two different insurance options:
- The Flight Cancellation Plan includes coverage for domestic flights, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
- The Flight Protection Plan provides coverage for international flights and flights to Hawaii and Alaska.
Sometimes, having peace of mind when it comes to the what-ifs of the future is helpful. And especially if you’re booking a vacation package, it’s convenient to have all of your trip and insurance coverage details easily accessible in one location.
7. You Can Find Last-Minute Deals
If you’re a spontaneous traveler, you’ve undoubtedly had your fair share of problems booking last-minute cheap flights and trips. Sometimes, those last-minute plans mean sacrificing some aspects of your vacation in the name of spontaneity and adventure.
But, as time and experience have no doubt taught, you can still plan incredible trips when you book last minute. Expedia tries to make that even easier with their last-minute deals.
Expedia offers special deals and savings for flights, hotels, and packages booked in the next two weeks. Last-minute savings even apply to vacation rentals and all-inclusive resorts. Look for the green discount mark above the price per night to see what last-minute deals are available.
The savings themselves are impressive enough to turn strict planners into spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway-ers!
Pro-tip: Keep an eye out for additional baggage fees, as the last-minute pricing doesn’t always include this.
6 Cons to Booking Expedia Flights
Expedia offers some definite perks to booking with them over the airline website, including great deals on domestic and international flights, more value with vacation packages, and earning Expedia Rewards points and perks. That said, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
If you’re contemplating using Expedia to book your future cheap flights, here are some things that have plagued other Expedia users, from mild inconveniences to hard-to-swallow shortcomings.
1. Cancellation Policies Can Be Tricky
Expedia offers a 24-hour free cancellation period. So, you can cancel your flight at any time during that window and still receive a full refund.
Outside of this crystal-clear policy, it’s not so cut and dry. Expedia doesn’t provide any hard and fast rules about cancellation fees or fares that are eligible for refunds. Instead, travelers are directed to the airline rules and restrictions in individual itineraries. As a result, it can be difficult to track down your specific trip details and any associated fees or refunds.
In addition, you may have to pay cancellation fees to both the service provider and Expedia should you need to change your travel plans, which can quickly stamp out any savings you initially scored from booking with Expedia in the first place.
Furthermore, some Expedia fares are entirely non-refundable, so be on the lookout. Read over the terms of each flight ticket carefully to understand any restrictions before you complete the booking process.
2. There’s Less Chance for an Upgrade
Most services these days offer loyalty programs, from airline frequent flyer programs to hotel rewards programs. Unfortunately, booking through an online travel agency may limit your ability to capitalize on free upgrades and other membership perks these programs offer.
Of course, Expedia does provide its own discounts and free upgrades depending on membership levels. You can always build up your membership status with Expedia, but it’s important to note that Expedia’s perks and upgrades are generally available only through select partners. And these may still pale in comparison to what you might get when booking directly with the service provider.
3. You’re Working with a Middleman
Instead of booking with the airline, you book through Expedia’s website, which essentially acts as a middleman between you, the customer, and the airline.
While working with a go-between like Expedia can help you score savings and great perks, they can become a detriment when things go wrong. And, of course, things can always go wrong.
Suppose a problem arises with your flight or itinerary. In that case, you may find yourself suffering long wait times, agents who aren’t equipped to help resolve your issue, and even being shuffled between Expedia and the airline as they put the responsibility of your problem off on each other.
On the other hand, using a service like Next Vacay, you can take advantage of great deals on flights while still having direct access to the airline, meaning you can contact them if anything goes wrong.
4. They Play by Their Own Rules
Frequently, OTA rules and restrictions are more rigid than the airlines. So, just because an airline offers a free change with no fees doesn’t mean Expedia will allow you to change your flight without charge.
Additionally, you’re not always guaranteed a refund through Expedia, even if the same fare booked directly through the airline qualifies for a full refund.
Always compare Expedia’s rules and fare restrictions to the airline before you book, and if you think you may have to change your flight for any reason, consider booking directly with the airline instead.
5. Some Details Can’t Be Guaranteed
A major downside of booking through Expedia is the lack of guarantee. Your room and fare types aren’t always set in stone.
Additionally, mistake fares are honored less often with any OTA, including Expedia. Mistake fares can be an incredible deal. If you talk with frequent travelers or deal hunters, they’ve undoubtedly mentioned insane price drops that let them travel on a domestic flight for super cheap. And don’t get us started on international flights. But with third-party services, you may not be able to take advantage of some of these one-in-a-lifetime prices.
Because it takes time for third-party bookings to process, the quoted fare price could disappear before the transaction goes through. So, while that unbelievable premium economy flight deal may look great on paper, in reality, you could end up missing out on major savings.
That said, missing out on mistake fares and unspecified room types may amount to a minor inconvenience for some. However, the lack of guarantee is less than ideal for anyone who likes to know exactly what they’re getting when they book.
6. The Complaints
Consumers can generally take bad reviews with a grain of salt, but it’s important to note when a company has mostly negative reviews attached to its name.
While Expedia’s website boasts thousands of positive reviews, trusted review websites highlight an overwhelming number of complaints from dissatisfied customers. Many of the complaints center around the customer service available at Expedia, from difficulty getting in touch to hours spent on the phone and a lack of resolution prior to filing a formal complaint.
Expedia Flights: the Bottom Line
Booking through Expedia offers travelers the lure of convenience and cheaper flights. Still, they should weigh those benefits against finicky cancellation policies and a lack of guarantees for a complete picture. So, thoroughly consider the pros and cons of booking with Expedia before booking your next trip. For the right deal, you may find that Expedia is worth it.