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Travel Tip: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Rushed When Booking Online

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If you like to book your flights or hotel rooms online through an OTA (online travel agency, such as Expedia or Orbitz), then you’ve probably seen these alerts posted next to a fare or room rate: “only two seats left” or “17 other people are looking at this hotel…”

Welcome to the world of “pressure selling,” a sometimes very effective way of forcing you to make a fast decision about an airline fare or hotel room.

But is that information on the availability of that fare or room rate accurate?

Nine times out of ten, the answer is no.

These flashed warnings are often either incorrect or misleading.

Case in point: I went to a website to check on a fare between New York and Los Angeles, and the site flashed a warning that only one seat was available at that rate. Really?

I called the airline directly and discovered there were at least 30 seats still open on that flight—and at that fare.

The real story is that individual websites are given limited amounts of inventory by each airline for each flight, and while that is of course based on supply and demand, when one site tells you seats are going fast, they may in fact be only telling you that the seats allocated to them are being grabbed.

Don’t be forced to buy something with these warnings.

Always get a second opinion, either from the airline or hotel directly, or check out another website.

You might even find a lower fare or room rate for the same airline flight or hotel room.

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