Want a Great Hotel Deal? Ask Your Airline

by Sarah Rose 
Posted Oct 31st 2010 10:16 PMUpdated Feb 15th 2011 07:50 AM

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You may have noticed when you logged on to book a plane ticket that your airline also let you book a hotel room right on their site. But is this one-stop-shopping such a good idea? A lot of travelers seem to think so.

According to a new study, about 38-percent of surveyed fliers book their hotels through an airline website. We decided to take a look to see if that tactic can actually get you a cheap hotel room. To our surprise, the skies are friendlier than we thought. Of the five trips we researched, four had the airline's price coming in as the lowest, with savings ranging from less than dollar to almost $700. The prices below are subject to change, of course, since hotel rates fluctuate constantly. Just like plane fares.

Delta

The trip: A three-day Broadway weekend at The Muse Hotel in New York City

Booked through Delta: $1,056.33
Booked through the hotel: $1,184.49
Booked through Expedia: $1,375.71
Best Bet: Delta

The findings: For (relative) bargain hunting in the Big Apple, we found that Delta's website was the best place to book. When we shopped, the rate through Delta was a $128.16 savings for the Times Square-area hotel when compared to booking directly through the hotel itself. That's enough to buy discount tickets for two to a Sunday matinee. Expedia costs $319.38 more than the prices quoted on Delta's site -- essentially enough savings to add that fourth day to your three-day weekend.

Continental Airlines

The trip: A five-day Disneyland vacation at the Best Western Meridian Inn & Suites in Anaheim

Booked through Continental: $374.65
Booked through the hotel: $395.00
Booked through Expedia: $411.25
Best Bet: Continental

The findings: Not only did Continental's website save us $20 over booking directly through the hotel, there's also a 250 mile reward for using the airline's site. Plus, the Best Western's rate requires all your money paid up-front with no possibility of cancellation. The "Expedia Special Rate" seems anything but special in comparison; it was an extra $35.

JetBlue

The trip: A two-night jazz and blues weekend at the Queen & Crescent Hotel in New Orleans

Booked through JetBlue: $335.15
Booked through Queen & Crescent: $305.07
Booked through Expedia: $326.80
Best Bet: The hotel itself

The findings: The best deal in New Orleans requires going straight to the hotel's site (the site does not specify taxes up front, but read the fine print). Direct booking meant a $30 savings compared to booking through the airline. Powered by hotels.com, JetBlue's search engine is even pricier than Expedia.

American Airlines

The Trip: A New Year's Eve golf getaway weekend at the Marriott Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami

Booked through American: $461.04
Booked through the hotel: $461.45
Booked through Expedia: $542.95
Best Best: American (by a hair)

The Findings: If you want to play 18 holes on the Blue Monster PGA course in the Florida sun over the New Year's three-day weekend, the price for booking through the airline and the hotel was less than 50 cents. But the $138 price we could save by booking through American or the hotel instead of Expedia is worth a 50-minute signature massage at the Doral Spa.

Southwest

The trip: A weeklong family ski trip at the Sundial Lodge at the Canyons in Park City, Utah

Booked through Southwest: $742.57
Booked through the hotel: $1,404.10
Booked through Expedia: $2,354.31
Best Bet: Southwest

The Findings: Southwest Airlines was our new best friend, with a $662 savings for booking the hotel with Southwest instead of directly through the Canyons. That would pay for the kids' lift tickets all week. And the $1,611.74 difference between booking with Southwest instead of Expedia would cover lifts for the family ($1,182 for six days of skiing) with enough money left over to pay for equipment rentals for the entire crew.

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Peggy W Palmer

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November 12 2010 at 4:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brad

This week I booked a room at Days Inn on-line. My rate was $104 +++++ The total was $118.00 for one night. The site would not allow me use my AAA card or my rewards card at sign on. It was only when I checked in that I found out it was booked through Expedia. I thought the discount could be applied at check-in; NOT! Also the hotel could not provide a receipt as the room was booked through Expedia - I have to contact Expedia for a receipt.

The next day I needed to book for another night and called the hotel. I got the same room with discounts for $84-$89 + tax = around $99.

I have learned to check who is doing booking on-line, and if you know your itinerary; book ahead buy phone to make sure you get the best "deals", receive award credits and can use your discounts - AAA, ARRP etc.

November 12 2010 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark W. Woodruff

I don't think you gave expedia a fighting chance. I am assuming in all 3 scenarios you booked the flights through the airline. I would like to compare booking both w/ the airline with booking BOTH with expedia.
In contrast to the previous comment, I have never found a cheaper fair on an airline website than I got on expedia, and I check every time.

November 11 2010 at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carol Wells

By choosing a 4th option here - consulting a travel professional - you would have saved yourself time and the need to do all this comparison shopping yourself. Who knows...you may have even come out with a lower price, too.

November 11 2010 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Carol Wells's comment
Concerned

A 4th option is good, just to have an option. How would you really know the travel agent is giving you the lower fare information if you don't try to look around.

November 12 2010 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
susan

My agent (Liberty travel) will beat any price I find online..last time I found it cheaper on cheapcaribbean.com and they beat it by 5%...they claim they do it all the time that but people have to find it first and then ask for ti...

November 12 2010 at 5:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jay Morgan

Expedia has always been a rip, but most people won't compare. I have found them higher on 99% of trips I research, and the other 1% they are equal to, but never less than other options. They create the illusion of saving you money, but if you compare, you ill find them to be the highest in nearly all cases.

November 11 2010 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Graham Howarth

This is a very useful article thanks - I have always used Expedia - they did not do well even once

November 11 2010 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AV

anne a vitasek

November 11 2010 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AV

NO
anne a vitasek

November 11 2010 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AV

no

November 11 2010 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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