There are a lot of reasons to not use any of these sites but terrible customer service, undelivered bookings, and general hassle are some of the main offenses.
Let’s start with the first offender, eDreams, a site that keeps their airfare listings low by basically not having a customer service department and by sneaking in fees right after you book. For starters, eDreams shows you the absolute lowest price you’ll definitely not be paying when searching. A lot of aggregators do this but eDreams is a particularly bad offender where your final fare can be 30-50% more than what you’re first shown.
Another shady practice many have come across with eDreams is they show you fares with their “Prime” membership discounts included.
So, for example for a flight from New York to London is might show a $535 round trip. Notice the greyed out fine print in the video above though and it’s actually $608. But eDreams automatically includes a free 30 day trial of prime when you book, which isn’t very clear – because Prime is $59 a year – so many people are unwittingly charged a month later for a service they didn’t explicitly sign up for.
You have to click to “Show other fares” to see the true price.
The trick SmartFares likes to do is show you low prices for a fare, then when you do book, will send you their confirmation code. That’s not confirmation by the airlines – a few hours, up to a day passes, then they say your flight wasn’t booked because the airline raised their price. They’ll then (hopefully) send an email asking if you want to book at the new, higher rate. If you try to cancel, they’ll charge you a fee to do so.
There are in fact so many issues with Smartfares that they’ve included an entire section in their terms about charge backs and credit card disputes. Basically saying you agree to not dispute any of their fees with your credit card and they you’ll be charged a $250 charge back fee if you attempt to dispute.
You know things are bad when there’s several sections in the terms on how you can not get a refund for botched bookings. My advice, avoid using SmartFares when possible.
GoToGate is so bad, in my testing, I wasn’t able to book a single flight. All were dropped, requests for refunds ignored, and there are fees for handling refunds. And believe me when I say, Gotogate will fight you and your credit card tooth and nail for that refund or charge dispute. They’re really nasty to work with so avoid them. Seriously, you can find a flight elsewhere.
There Is Hope
All services and booking sites not to mention airlines, screw up. They make mistakes are incompetent, some percentage of the time. With enough customers, even a small percentage adds up. But with eDreams, SmartFares, and GoToGate, that percentage is very high. To stay in business they make refunds difficult, charge fees wherever they can – and just enough people have a smooth experience that sites like Kayak still work with them.
Keep that in mind next time you’re looking for a flight and see an unusually low price through an aggregator. It’s probably too good to be true and if it’s one of those 3 sites I’ve mentioned, not worth the trouble.