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Is Booking.com Reliable for Flights?

Booking flights is probably one of the best and worst things you can do. It’s exciting to book another trip, but it’s also a waiting game to get the best price and flights.

With Booking.com being a popular travel site, many people wonder if it’s good for buying flights. So, is Booking.com reliable for flights? Let’s dive in and find out more.

Is Booking.com Reliable for Flights?

No, Booking.com is not reliable for flights and you shouldn’t book your flights there.

There are a few different reasons why you should avoid Booking.com and I’ll delve into them in the next section. 

Should I Book Flights on Booking.com?

Short answer? No, you should not buy your flights on Booking.com. There are a few different reasons why you should avoid Booking.com and I’ll delve into them in the next section. 

The reason I decided to write this post in the first place was because of a comment someone left on another post, which you can read below:

comment complaining about booking flights on booking.com

Booking.com vs Skyscanner

First things first, Booking.com is a site that compares the prices for accommodation, car hire, and flights from all around the world but is also an OTA or Online Travel Agent.

This means that, unlike Skyscanner, when you book through Booking.com, you don’t get redirected to the airline, dedicated holiday site, or hotel website to book. You pay Booking.com and then they’ll release payment to the airline or vendor after taking a cut. 

It is a really popular site that’s mostly used for accommodation as it has both hotels and holiday rentals on the site with a ton of filters to help you find the ideal place.

There are also traveler photos and reviews to try and keep everyone honest, but as I’ve said in my other Booking.com piece, it doesn’t always work that way. 

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4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Book Flights on Booking.com

Aside from my own personal experiences with Booking.com, there are quite a few reasons why you shouldn’t use Booking.com for your flights (or your accommodation).

1. Hidden Charges

One of the massive things that I personally hate about any OTA is if they’re not upfront about their fees and charges. Booking.com is famous for doing this and it actually happened to me a few years ago when the charges on my credit card were substantially higher than what was on my booking confirmation.

So how is this legal? Well, there is some tiny small print that says subject to additional charges, but nowhere, not even on the final confirmation before payment does it tell you what those charges are or the breakdown that includes the extra fees.

It’s not until after you pay and get your confirmation email does the full breakdown and bottom line appear. It’s insane. 

2. Terrible Customer Service

As with a lot of deceitful travel websites, the customer service for Booking.com is so difficult to get hold of to the point that I reckon most people must just give up and accept the extra charges or bad service.

Here’s a comment someone left on another post I made, stating that they won’t answer the phone (this happened to me as well).

comment about booking.com

After you finally find the right phone number and sit on hold for around 30 minutes, they nearly always try to pass the buck onto the airline and tell you to contact them. Of course, it’s not the airline and the customer service will tell you to go back to Booking.com in a horrific cycle.

3. Refund Policies

You can probably see where I’m going with this but as with the customer service system, the refund policy for Booking.com is a nightmare. As I’ve said at the start of this article, when you book through Booking.com you pay the site and then they’ll release the money to the airline or hotel.

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This is pretty much never done instantly, however, it also doesn’t say anywhere when this happens. 

On accommodation, it’s often only like 48 hours before check-in, and for flights, it can be similar. But, because the customer doesn’t know when the money gets transferred, you get sent between the two companies trying to find out who has your money and if you can get a refund. 

4. Cover for Delays and Cancellations

When it comes to flights, even the best OTAs can struggle with supporting travelers if there are flight delays and cancellations. Safe to say, Booking.com isn’t one of the best.

When you’re booking flights, the general rule of thumb is to always book directly through the airline and always book on a credit card to get that extra level of payment protection. 

Where Else Should I Book Flights?

So, if Booking.com isn’t an option, where should you book your flights? Normally, I’d say always book with the airline themselves, it might not be the cheapest deal you’ll see, but it’s often the safest and most transparent way of buying a flight.

If you’re looking for deals or are on a route where there are a few airlines to choose from, I always use Skyscanner. It’s a comparison website, but it’ll redirect you to the OTA or airline for the final purchase. This way you’re not paying through a middleman that makes everything more complicated, unlike Booking.com. 

Under each flight, you’ll see probably like 10-20 different websites with prices for those specific flights. They all have star ratings and the number of reviews next to them so you can see if they’re sketchy or not.

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Skyscanner also always makes a point of highlighting the airline’s link and price, so it’s easy to go direct once you’ve found the flights, prices, and route that you’re looking for. 

Think Before You Book!

Right, so to answer the question, “Is Booking.com reliable for flights?”, I’d say absolutely not.

Like a lot of untrustworthy and tricky travel booking sites, there are plenty of people who will have booked flights with Booking.com without any issues, but the sheer number of people I know firsthand that have lost a lot of money to that site, as well as their ridiculous policies, simply means it’s just not worth the risk.

Avoid Booking.com and go direct. By all means, use it like a comparison tool to find what you’re looking for, but then go direct to the airline to actually buy your flight.

You’ll have way more protection that way and you’ll way less likely to lose out on money!

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Stephen Dickerson

Saturday 13th of January 2024

We just had a nightmare experience with Booking.com. Won't EVER EVER use them again. Everything you said is true.