Newest Review: ... to put on your suitcase if you really want to! This is really the last contact you have with Direct Holidays as once you arrive at the ai... more
I always try to be Direct......
Member Name: Lbird99
Advantages: Better Prices, More Baggage Allowance, and In flight meals included!
Disadvantages: In flight meals are included (only joking!)
When it comes to booking holidays I can be really anal about the planning - my husband thinks I prefer the planning to the holiday!! I have used Direct Holidays several times over the years and have always found them to be completely professional and great value for money. I used them when I booked my holiday in November last year, which we went on in May and they are usually one of my first stops when looking for a holiday. They are owned by Thomas Cook, but seem to be run as an independent company.
Finding your holiday - Brochure or Website?
As I have booked with them several times now I am obviously a fixture on their mailing list and always get a brochure through a couple of times a year. I always like to have a nose through the holiday brochures when I am looking for a holiday (and have been known to pop in to the travel agents for an arm of brochures just to cheer myself up!) They do several brochures for short and long haul holidays, and you can also request these via their website and they are normally sent out within a week. I usually use the brochures to make a short list of ones I like the look at that I will then look at in more detail on the website and trip advisor.
Of course you can also search for holidays on the Direct Holidays website. I just prefer to use the brochure method first as I find it quicker to skim the details on the page and eliminate any that aren't suitable - for instance I am diabetic so I rule out anything without a fridge in the room. The search is really easy to use - You put in when you want to go, who is going, what airport and the country or region you want to go to. You can also cut this further by adding your budget, board type, free kids places etc. It will then bring you up a list of available places. Each hotel has a summary, a full specification and images (and videos if available). I like the initial summary page as you get to see the flight times straight off - and when you are travelling with a toddler this is very important! You can also click from here to see if there are other flight times and room types available. The other bit I really like is the change date tab as it brings up a calendar with the per person price for 2 weeks either side of your chosen date, and you can see if there are any bargains by going a couple of days earlier or later. The only thing I'm not that keen on is the compare function as all it really does is show you the price side by side.
You can book your break via the website or by phone. I have booked both ways - I usually use the internet but as we were taking a wheelchair and I had a few questions I booked by phone. The call centre is based in Scotland and the lady I spoke to - Lisa - was absolutely wonderful. After taking all the usual details of who was going and ages, she checked the price against my internet quote which was matched. She talked through whether we would a disabled room which we decided we didn't, but she said she would put it on the booking requesting a hotel not miles from the main facilities - and we ended up with a room a stone's throw from the lifts which was fab! She also explained who I needed to contact to book the wheel chair on the flight and what info I needed to provide, and put on the booking that we would be bringing crutches in the cabin in addition to our hand luggage at no extra cost. She even gave me her email address so that if I had any queries once I got off of the phone I could send them through. I also booked us seats together for a small fee and our in flight meals (including a kids meal for Little Man) - never a culinary delight but at least they break the flight up a bit!
If you book on line the process is pretty much the same - you type in the names and date of births of all passengers, then you can select your extras and meal requests by using the tick boxes on screen. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes online. Now I know how easy it is to travel with a wheelchair I would go back to online booking, but I would definitely recommend calling them if you have any queries as they were so helpful.
Paying for your holiday
When I booked there was a low deposit offer so I paid this via credit card which has a £5.95 surcharge. However I do it for the protection just in case the company goes belly up! Debit cards do not carry a fee which is good. The rest of the deposit is due 8 weeks later, and they will send you a reminder through the post to let you know, with final balance being due 12 weeks before you fly. You can pay by phone or online regardless of how you booked, and you can make payments at any time before the balance is due - if I had a spare £10 I would pay it off the holiday, although they do send you an updated invoice each time you make a payment and I had about 20 in the end!
Our tickets arrived 16 days before our holiday and came in a cheque book type document with little titbits of information about our destination, when and where to check in and of course our flight tickets. Like most holiday companies now they do not supply luggage tags but they do supply big direct holidays stickers to put on your suitcase if you really want to! This is really the last contact you have with Direct Holidays as once you arrive at the airport you are in the hands of Thomas Cook.
Why choose Direct Holidays?
For me it really comes down to getting the best value I can for my money. Although that you may find a similar holiday a bit cheaper through one of the holiday finder websites, but I am reluctant to book through a tour operator I have never heard of - I guess I am a bit of a coward. I priced my holiday up on both Thomas Cook and First Choice - Direct Holidays was more than £100 cheaper and the flight times from First choice were horrendous (I don't want to fly home at 1 am with a crabby 3 year old thanks!) Also, despite being the same company Direct Holidays gave me in flight meals and an extra 5kg baggage allowance per person included in the price so it was a no brainer for me! You still get your transfers, taxes and rep service but you get to take more clothes!!
As you can tell, I would really recommend Direct Holiday. The service you get is excellent and once you get to the airport you are like every other Thomas cook customer - just a bit smugger! Now obviously I had to look at the website to 'remind' myself what it all looked like, so I'm off to nag Hubs about this absolute bargain I've found for next year...
Summary: Cheaper than Thomas Cook for the same Holiday!