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For many, comparison websites and online travel agents are the right place to find cheap flights.

The sites aim to compare the prices of hundreds of airlines according to their destination and dates to offer you the best deals.

More tourists are placing their trust in websites like Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket, Momondo and Kayak, to find cheap rates.

You can book directly with the airlines, but many are now offering flights of a large number of "average men" at lower prices. These firms, which are often based abroad, take their money and then secure seats with the airline, if they are still available.

Travel: many airlines are offering flights a lot of

Many comparison websites and online travel agencies claim that they compare the prices of hundreds of airlines according to their destination and dates to offer you the best deals.

But experts warn that booking sites often do not make clear who you're booking with, and where you can complain when things go wrong.

Prices can also go up before and after you've paid, and you can lose the vital protections you get from direct booking.

Today Money Mail reveals the tricks used by flight comparison sites that could prevent you from getting the best offer.

YOU MUST RESERVE IN 10 MINUTES

Many websites use pressure tactics to rush customers to deliver the details of their card. Some claim that flights are limited and you will be lost if you do not make a reservation there.

When Money Mail looked at flights from London to Malaga in May, one site, Opodo, issued warnings in red that said "last flight" and "there are only five tickets left."

Another, called eDreams, claimed that there were only nine seats left # & # 39; on a flight from Manchester to New York in May.

The booking sites have a certain number of tickets at a fixed price in which they can sell.

So, while that website only has some fees left, there may be more seats available at other prices or if you have booked directly with the airline.

Opodo and eDreams say that ticket availability warnings are accurate for the selected fare, but do not represent the availability of the entire aircraft.

This means that, while you may not get the advertised rate, you still must be able to get a seat on the flight even if you wait.

After selecting a flight from the results page, some websites also try to rush customers to complete their reservation. eDreams, for example, warns customers that they only have ten minutes to complete their details.

If you wait longer, the screen will update, which means that prices may change.

Momondo says his flights must be paid within 20 minutes and shows a countdown clock after which prices can be reset.

TravelSupermarket tells its customers that it is unlikely that they will find a better deal while waiting. When looking for flights from London to Malaga in May, a white box appeared on our screen that said: & # 39; Our advice: Buy now. It is unlikely that prices will decrease within seven days.

Kayak, which manages TravelSupermarket, says its advice is based on past and current prices, but admits it is not guaranteed that prices will not go down.

Last year, the regulator of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned hotel reservation websites against a similar pressure sale.

Momondo, also led by Kayak, says he does not consider the pressure of the countdown clock sold with flight searches, since the offers last very little.

The best deals may cost more

Many tourists believe that the flight that appears at the top of the list of results is the cheapest. However, some airlines pay sites a commission that will be promoted as the best option, even if there are better deals available.

TravelSupermarket, for example, does not automatically list offers in order of price.

For example, when looking for flights from London to Malaga, the main result was a Jet2-sponsored offer that costs £ 160. Below was an option that costs only £ 82 with rival site Kayak and a £ 150 deal with BA.

However, the lowest price available was only £ 78, also with Kayak. If you want to see the results in order of price, you should click on a drop-down box and then select "cheaper".

Opodo puts first his "best" and "genius". You must click on the cheapest options & # 39; at the top of the results page to sort by price.

He says he provides a recommendation based on many factors, such as travel time, stopovers and baggage allowance. Kayak also presents its best flights & # 39; First.

The best result for flights from Birmingham to Dubai in May was £ 349 from Emirates. The second agreement on the list costs £ 334 with two different airlines.

Kayak says he decides which flights to recommend based on duration, price, number of stops and the airline, and adds that companies do not pay for this place.

The Emirates flight was considered "the best" because it was several hours faster but only 5% more expensive than other flights, a spokesman said.

We are still waiting for our money after ticket errors that we could not fix

Dental nurse Lorna Golebiewski had to spend £ 1,100 on a new flight when lastminute.com refused to change the name on her ticket.

She realized that she had booked flights to South Africa with her married name that did not match her passport.

Lorna, 25, noticed the error more than a week before she traveled to Durban with her husband Seth and her friend Chloe for a wedding. He had already paid almost £ 500 for the ticket, which included a stop in Johannesburg.

Lastminute.com requested her marriage certificate and a copy of her passport, which she sent. She says that she assured him she would solve it.

Cost: changing a name on your plane ticket may mean having to buy a new ticket

Cost: changing a name on your plane ticket may mean having to buy a new ticket

But Lorna, who lives in Devon, says she had to keep chasing the company, calling three times a day just to explain her situation again.

Every time they told him he would have an answer within 24 hours, he was promised calls that would never come.

Lorna says she had time to get a new passport, which would be cheaper than a new flight, but she was warned that this would not be necessary. The day before his trip, lastminute.com sent an email to Lorna saying he would not modify his ticket.

He explained that he could not change the name due to the terms and conditions of the airline. However, on BA's website he says he will do it for free.

Lorna contacted BA and told lastminute.com she was responsible for the tickets, so she could not help. Another seat on the same flight would cost £ 3,500, so he found another ticket that costs £ 1,100 on an airplane and three hours later.

Lorna says: & # 39; If you had booked directly with the airline, this would not have happened. There was an error on my part, but I tried to fix it in time. I put confidence in lastminute.com that assured me that it would solve the problem.

Lastminute.com states that it could not change the reservation due to the "rules and policies" of the airline, so it was only able to reimburse unused taxes and a gesture of goodwill of £ 50.

Murray Harkin is still trying to recover his money five months after searching for flights with TravelSupermarket. The director of public relations used the firm last July to compare the cost of flights from Athens to London for a September vacation.

The cheapest option cost £ 152 with Cobalt Air if booked through Gotogate, of which I had never heard. After paying he received an email with the confirmation of his reservation.

Right away, Murray noticed a silly mistake with his name. I had an & # 39; email & # 39; added at the end. But after asking Gotogate to correct his name, he was told he would have to buy another ticket, which had since increased to £ 270.

Murray, 53, refused and booked a ticket for £ 191 using another website, which left his experience unlucky.

But when he arrived at the airport, the staff told him they would have left him on the plane even though the mistake was so obvious.

When Murray, from Hastings, East Sussex, complained to Gotogate, they told him to get in touch with the airline. Five months later, he still has 152 pounds out of his pocket.

He says: & # 39; I'm just going to use websites and airlines that I know from now on & # 39;

Gotogate says that because Murray booked non-refundable tickets, he could not return his money for the ticket he could not use. He says he tried to request a refund from Cobalt on September 17, but the airline did not respond and a month later filed for bankruptcy.

Now he has apologized and offered to reimburse Murray as a gesture of goodwill.

HIDDEN RATES FOR TAKING A BAG

It can be frustrating to discover that cheap fares often only include a seat on an airplane.

So, if you need to register a bag or want to guarantee that your family feels together, the total cost can increase significantly.

This can make it very difficult to compare offers equally. Even more confusing, rates and charges can vary dramatically depending on the company you use to book your flights.

For example, if you search Skyscanner for flights from Manchester to New York in May, the cheapest option is £ 325 with Netflights on Virgin. With Travel Trolley you will pay £ 326.

However, if you want to add a bag, Netflights will charge £ 88, while Travel Trolley will add £ 70.

This means that, in general, it costs £ 17 cheaper to book with Travel Trolley at £ 396 compared to £ 413 with Netflights.

These different costs apply to the same airline. Netflights says that the costs are extracted directly from the airline and are driven by a series of variable factors over which it has no control.

Experts warn that booking sites often do not make clear who you're booking with, and where you can complain when things go wrong.

Experts warn that booking sites often do not make clear who you're booking with, and where you can complain when things go wrong.

The Kayak comparison site is one of the few that allows you to filter results depending on the extras.

Even if you book directly, most of the major airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, charge a fee for checking baggage on flights, even over long distances.

Rates may go up after booking

The rate advertised by online booking and comparison sites is rarely guaranteed. So when you come to pay, you may find that the cost skyrockets.

For example, when group of consumers What? He looked for a flight back from London to San Francisco in May, which found an offer for £ 399 with Gotogate in Momondo.

But after accessing their website, the price rose to £ 476. Momondo says he receives prices from third-party vendors, which may change based on availability. But he says he will investigate.

Rory Boland, from what? Viajes, says that this example is not unique, since it regularly sees firms that advertise cheap prices that are not available. He says: It's a complete waste of time for customers.

"Flight comparison sites are supposed to make it easier, not harder to get a good deal."

Some firms may try to charge you more after you have paid. For example, if you book with Gotogate or Mytrip, your websites say: The prices for the flight, as well as the availability of seats, are inserted directly by the corresponding airline.

& # 39; If changes in the price of the airline beyond our control occur after the submission of the reservation request, but before the contract with the airline becomes binding, the contract will not enter into vigor and your payment will be refunded in full.

"We can communicate with you and offer you the option to accept the modified price during normal opening hours."

This means that even after you pay and receive a confirmation email, your rate will not be guaranteed until you receive a second email with the details of your ticket and the seat number.

The booking sites have a certain number of tickets at a fixed price in which they can sell. So, although that website only has some fees left, there may be more places available at other prices.

The booking sites have a certain number of tickets at a fixed price in which they can sell. So, although that website only has some fees left, there may be more places available at other prices.

COSTS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE MORE

It used to be the case that when I was looking for flights on comparison sites like Skyscanner and TravelSupermarket, I was offered a list of options that I could book directly with airlines.

Now, you are usually presented with dozens of agreements with new and unknown firms that are often based outside the United Kingdom.

Martyn James, from the Resolver complaint site, says that many flight and vacation comparison sites are part of the same group. For example, Gotogate and Mytrip, which appear on all major comparison sites, are owned by Etraveli Group.

It is often considered that both companies offer the cheapest prices. The eDreams and Opodo comparison sites are part of eDreams ODIGEO.

Momondo and TravelSupermarket are in charge of Kayak. However, Mr. James adds that sites that sell the same seats at different prices at different times is impossible for customers to get the best offer.

One of the largest sites, Expedia, belongs to the Expedia Group, which includes holiday search sites such as eBookers, CheapTickets, Travelocity and Hotwire, as well as the comparison sites of Trivago and Hotels.com hotels, and rental companies. automobiles

James says the risk is that brands under the same umbrella group can boost their own services through several websites without transparency.

A quick online search reveals a large number of complaints about lesser-known websites.

On the Trustpilot review site, Gotogate gets a one-star rating. Customers report how refunds do not appear and flights are modified or canceled without explanation.

Expedia also has a one star rating. Clients say it is difficult to recover their money and described the responses to complaints as slow. Expedia says it takes customer comments seriously.

It was even found that some companies charged for customer service or "support packages".

Gotogate, for example, offers a choice of basic, premium or platinum support levels. The premium package costs £ 19.80 and entitles customers to a "quick response time" to inquiries.

The platinum offer costs £ 39.80 and means you can get a "quick refund" if you need it.

Wedoflights received a two-star rating with numerous complaints about an after-sales service of £ 25 that you must pay if you need to speak with a staff member.

The company states that the bad reviews are misleading and are made by "unreasonable" customers who make mistakes during the booking process and can not accept that they must comply with the terms and conditions of the airline.

NO RIGHT TO A REFUND

If you use your credit card to book flights over £ 100, you are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Law and can recover your money if things go wrong.

But this only works if you buy directly from the seller, the airline in this case. There must be a direct link between you, your credit card provider and the company that provides the goods or services. Therefore, if you reserve tickets through a third party, you may lose this additional protection.

It may also be cheaper to book directly with the airline than through a comparison site.

For example, the cheapest roundtrip tickets from Birmingham to Faro, Portugal, which are on Opodo cost £ 99.85 from Ryanair.

When we check the same flights on the Ryanair website, we find them for £ 94.37.

Booking directly means you also know who to complain to when things go wrong.

James says he gets confused when several companies participate. Many of the "middle men" are not based in the United Kingdom and can be difficult to contact.

Travel expert Frank Brehany says these firms may look like travel agents, but they are not. He says: "They are simple facilitators and have little or no responsibility with you."

Complaints should be directed to the person who took the money. Or, if you have a complaint about the initial price shown on the comparison site, you must file a complaint with that company.

The Civil Aviation Authority says that it has already taken measures against a number of companies for breaches of the Consumer Protection Regulation against unfair trade in 2008.

This includes in relation to deceptive practices and hidden charges.

A spokesperson says: "We are determined that consumers should be able to make informed decisions based on access to clear and concise information provided by airlines, tour operators and travel agencies."

a.murray@dailymail.co.uk

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