Akbar Travels is familiar to most travelers in India. Until recently, we assumed that they were a domestic travel agent. When we visited their website, we discovered that they had multiple travel fare listings and offers for both domestic and international destinations.
When we were planning our next trip online to Sweden, we came across Akbar Travels and visited their website out of curiosity. That is when we discovered their robust offering. We’ve always been a bit wary of booking flights through portals like these, and prefer booking directly with the airline. One hears so many scary stories about how users were duped by OTAs & had a bad experience trying to sort out changes or cancellations. We also hear about terrible stories of bookings that weren’t honoured. One would not want to find themselves in this situation, just as they are about to jet off someplace special on holiday, right?
Here, I would like to digress. Let me tell you why we were tempted to try Akbar Travels for our bookings. As I mentioned earlier, it is not an unkown brand. We’ve been hearing it for a while now, and a quick search on Google revealed that as a Travel Agency, they’d been around for a while now. Initially, serving the Gulf going Keralites (though not a Keralite, as an ex- resident of the Gulf, perhaps my parents did use them on one of our many trips to and from Oman, many many years ago!). So, there we were, booking tickets to Gothenburg for our incredible trip to Sweden in February. The portal recommended a connection through Munich on Lufthansa with a very short layover time which worked out very well for us. We wouldn’t waste too much time in transit, and we were to be in Gothenburg (the intended first stop for our Sweden experience). We immediately bagged a pair of Premium Economy seats and were all set. The price seemed decent (although it had been a while since we’d flown via Lufthansa) and booking the tickets was a seamless experience. We had printouts of our tickets safely stowed in our travel wallet and were all set to go.
Our day jobs changed our plans, in the last minute. We had to push our trip to the end of April. Buying our tickets with them had been so seamless and easy in the first place, that we’d almost forgotten that we hadn’t bought them directly with the airline. We were only reminded when we spoke to Lufthansa and they asked us to check with the Travel Agent about changes to the flights. So, we went back to Akbar Travels. Remember, this was very close to the date of the trip. We had been so swamped with work that we had no time to even change the dates on those tickets until a day before the original travel dates. I was so worried we were going to end up paying a hefty fine. It turns out that I needn’t have been so worried. A couple of emails to double check on the fare difference and change fee, a quick bank transfer and voila! We had our new tickets (for the same flight) for April in our inbox in virtually no time at all. There were no complicated IVR payments like the airlines usually make us do!
Now, anyone who’s read anything about the Northern Lights knows just how pointless April is. There’s virtually no possibility of seeing the aurora in April. So, we decided to change our holiday plans. By change in plan, I meant the destination. We mulled over it a few days, coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas, but none made sense since Gothenburg was just so cut off from everything other than Sweden and Denmark. Until my husband, Charles, had a bit of a brainwave. April is the tulip season. It’s the perfect time to visit the Netherlands. After his work trip to Amsterdam the year before last, he’d been dying to show it off to me too. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t find too many options for Intra-Europe flights on Akbar Travels, but I did a quick search anyway. I was incredibly surprised. The experience I’ve always had accessing domestic or internal Europe flights is I end up with some absolutely ridiculous prices while searching from India. I was pretty convinced the site would either show up these high prices or not have most of the convenient flights listed at all. Neither of the two happened. What happened instead, was a search result with the most convenient flight possible (I know this because I did a thorough check on the internet, I am a travel blogger after all) via Copenhagen to Amsterdam. Yes, we did end up taking several flights for what is usually accessible by a short direct flight, but hey, that’s what happens when plans change in the last minute. This also meant a quick couple of days in Gothenburg at the end of our trip, so I wasn’t complaining.
Apart from the additional legroom, what I love the most about flying in Premium Economy (which now we can’t do without on long hauls) is the additional baggage space. However, here’s how Premium Economy works when you’re taking multiple fights – one of which isn’t a long haul, like the Gothenburg-Munich leg for instance. They don’t have Premium Economy seats. Now the experience that we’ve had in the past, with an airline that we would not like to name was that the local carrier refused to acknowledge our PE status at check in, thereby making us pay a ridiculous amount for excess baggage. Now I’m not even sure if this had anything to do with Akbar Travels, but to hear the Lufthansa staff assure us, that we were going to be treated with PE benefits all the way through regardless of which leg of our journey, was just music to our ears. It may not have had anything to do with this specific portal, but it’s certainly made the overall travel experience better, and therefore in my eyes, my experience with Akbar Travels better too.
We enjoyed a fantastic trip across the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Sweden, and will certainly consider using Akbar Travels for our flight bookings again!
Disclaimer: Akbar Travels did reach out to us to try out their portal. Opinions, as always are our own.