Don't Waste Your Money: Frontier Airlines seating surprise - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Don't Waste Your Money: Some airlines penalize travelers using third-party sites

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(Toledo News Now) -

When booking a flight or hotel, many of us use travel websites, like Expedia and Travelocity. They find low airfares, as well as decent hotel and rental car rates. But some airlines are making that search more difficult.

More airlines want you to book through their own website, not third-party price comparison sites, like Travelocity and Expedia. Now, some are starting to penalize travelers who book through other sources, going so far as to not assign seats, and even put your family in different rows on the plane.

Frontier Booking Surprise

Some Ohio travelers trying out the region's new discount airline, Frontier, are getting a rude surprise when they book their first trip.

Dan Regenold is a savvy businessman, who turned a small picture frame shop into a major framing company over 20 years. But even his sharp business mind didn't catch the fine print when he booked a recent flight through his credit card's website.

"We tried to choose our seats," Regenold said. "It wouldn't let us choose our seats on the site. And when I got the printed copy, it showed my wife and I got seats directly behind each other, not next to each other."

Penalty For Using Third-Party Sites

What Regenold didn't know was that Frontier Airlines will not let you choose your seat assignment in advance if you book through Expedia, Travelocity, or in his case, American Express Travel. However, it does allow seat assignments on Orbitz.

Frontier no longer even lists its flights on Expedia, as of March 2013.

Regenold called the airline, but said, "Frontier told me they penalize you if you book through any website other than their own."

A report in USA Today says third-party websites cost carriers about $20 a ticket, so a growing number of discount airlines, looking to cut costs, want travelers to book through their site instead.

Southwest Airlines goes even further. It does not even list its fares on third-party sites, which means if you are searching Expedia, for instance, you won't find any flights on Southwest.

Advantages And Disadvantages

The big advantage of third-party travel sites is the ability to get an airfare, hotel room, and rental car all at once, often at a good discount. But if you decide to fly Frontier, you may want to book through Frontier or Orbitz, which now has an "exclusive" booking arrangement with the airline.

If not, as Regenold learned, you may end up rows away from your spouse, family, or travel partner.

Do your research so you don't waste your money.

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