Travel Information

Comparison Shopping Can Yield Benefits

Internet sites sometimes offer lower airfares than contracted travel agencies. However, this is not always the case. Searching several Internet sites for the lowest fare requires an investment of time, and individual departments will have to make decisions whether it is better to search Internet sites or to accept the quoted fare from a contracted travel agency.

Some Internet sites limit their list of airlines, which can prevent you from finding the lowest fare available. For example, some airlines have set up their own websites that feature only their own flights. Southwest Airlines offers many low fares, but its flights do not appear on any websites other than its own.

Iowa State University's contracted travel agency has a website that provides a more complete list of airline choices than some Internet sites. However, there sometimes are Internet-only specials that do not appear on the travel agents' reservation systems.

Our contracted travel agency can order most Internet fares through expedia.com, travelocity.com and orbitz.com, and will accept an Air Ticket Requisition form as payment. However, the travel agency's service fee will be added to the cost.

Completeness of Information

Some Internet sites that use an auction method (e.g., priceline.com) will not tell you the airline name, flight times or number of connections until your credit card already has been charged. Unless you are extremely flexible with your schedule this may not be your best option. Once your credit card has been charged you are unable to make changes, transfers or cancellations. Prices quoted at contracted agencies and other Internet sites include taxes. Taxes are not included in your bid price at auction sites, so you may end up paying a higher amount than you were expecting.

Other sites like hotwire.com will not tell you the airline name or flight time before your tickets are issued. However, you can limit the maximum number of connections.

Our contracted agency has a website that can show you available flights and prices before you commit to a purchase.

Levels of Customer Service

Before making an Internet purchase, review the site's policies on refunds and exchanges. Some sites offer toll-free numbers to assist you, while others give only an e-mail address. Fees for cancellations or changes vary between sites.

Our contracted agency has phone numbers to reach travel agents to assist you in obtaining refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased through their agency. Travel & Transport has an office in Ames for you to visit. However, neither our travel agents nor ISU staff will be able to assist you with resolving problems related to Internet ticket purchases.

Service Fees

Most Internet sites do not charge a fee for ordering tickets. However, you should not automatically assume there is no fee. Service fees can run as high as $10.00 per ticket, with additional fees if you choose your seat, or choose paper tickets instead of electronic tickets.

Our contracted agency charges a service fee of $30.50. However, the increased level of customer assistance available can make the extra fee worthwhile.

Convenience of Billing

Travelers who purchase tickets from Internet sites must enter their personal credit card information and wait for reimbursement until after the conclusion of the trip. No travel advances will be made to facilitate the purchases of tickets. If you make a ticket purchase via the Internet you should not create an Air Ticket Requisition. Acceptable documentation for the travel reimbursement includes the Passenger Receipt coupon or the E-ticket confirmation showing the amount paid. An itinerary that does not show an amount paid is not acceptable.

Risk to the Traveler

When purchasing tickets with a personal credit card the traveler assumes all risk. If the trip is canceled ISU will not reimburse the traveler for the ticket of a trip that was not taken, as the credit for the unused ticket goes back to the traveler's credit card. By contrast, trips arranged through our contracted travel agency and subsequently canceled can have credits applied to the future trips of any ISU traveler, which ensures the value of the ticket will not be lost.

Our contracted travel agency will accept an Air Ticket Requisition form that will be billed to the University's credit card. The department will be billed intramurally the following month. Your account will be encumbered twice per week after the Air Ticket Requisition is sent, which will provide more accurate reporting of remaining funds available.

Compliance With Policies

When making purchases via the Internet, the traveler still needs to comply with applicable policies and funding restrictions. For example, no first-class or business fares are allowed. Federal funds require U.S. flag carriers to be used. Back-to-back ticketing (buying two round-trip tickets when it is cheaper than one round-trip ticket not involving a Saturday stay-over) are not allowed. Travelers may not select an airline for the purpose of obtaining frequent flier miles or other premiums that benefit the traveler personally.

Our contracted agency monitors reservations to ensure compliance with ISU's policies and federal funding restrictions (if applicable).

If you have questions about Internet air ticket purchases, please contact Dave Baker at 515-294-1940 or e-mail him at dmbaker@iastate.edu.



This page was last updated on August 5, 2015.