Expedia sends booking fees on a permanent vacation!

Following up on a promotion that waived flight booking fees until May 31, Expedia.com announced that it would no longer charge customers a fee to book a flight through the popular travel agent. Expedia is counting on this move to increase the number of travelers who book their flights with them rather than finding the lowest price and heading to the airline to make their purchase. Overall the new policy should save travelers between $7-$12 a ticket.

Competing travel agents aren't the only ones to be affected by this fee reduction; airlines will have to adapt too. Many major carriers offer best price guarantees to persuade consumers to book directly with them. USA Today has a list of the many carriers that offer a price guarantee and their refund methods which is worth a look before you book. The reason Expedia's new policy could make things interesting is that Delta, United and American Airlines all require a price difference be $5-$10 - including all booking fees - before their low fare policies kicked in. With the new policy from Expedia, it's possible that we will see airlines lower their prices a few bucks to avoid the need to price match Expedia.

On top of this great news comes even better news for those of us who avoid booking anything through an online travel agent due to the monstrous change and cancellation fees. In the same article it was announced
that Expedia is also dropping these fees for hotel and car rentals as well as cruise and many airline tickets. These numerous fees have always pushed me to call up the hotel directly and ask them to match the price since their change and cancellation policies have, in my experience, been much friendlier to my needs as a consumer.

In a market where consumers are already looking for the lowest price, it will be tough for the Travelocity and Orbitz not to react to the booking fee elimination at Expedia which means lower prices for consumers. As for me, I'm hoping that this means I can start taking advantage of the cheap hotel+flight+car rental deals that I've missed out on by booking everything directly with the hotel, rental agency and airline.

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