DENVER (KDVR) — The summer travel season is off to a busy start. According to AAA of Colorado, 48 million Americans will travel over the July Fourth holiday even though airfare is up more than 13% and hotel rates have increased by 25% compared to last season.

Robert Bryan tells FOX31 he turned to a third-party booking service to get a better deal.

“Being on a fixed income, I had to find a lower price,” he said.

Bryan learned his company booked a one-way ticket instead of a round trip, so he was issued a refund in the amount of $217, but that was several weeks ago. The Problem Solvers contacted the company’s headquarters, which responded saying the refund would arrive within days.

What to know when booking third-party airfare

AAA of Colorado spokesperson Skyler McKinley said when not purchasing directly from an airline, it’s especially important to read the fine print.

“It is especially when it comes to delays, cancellations, refunds, that sort of thing, because it’s not always a guarantee that you’re going to get every penny of your money back or that you get it back quickly. The airlines will always refund 100% or take a price back to you, but these third-party sites put fees on top of that,” McKinley said.

Travelers may also experience a longer customer service response time with third-party booking services.

“They keep their overhead low by not employing a lot of staff. They might have a call center or contract with a call center, they might have an online chat, but generally they’re much harder to reach than the airlines because they’re not regulated in the same way that the airlines are,” McKinley said.

Consumer experts advise that travelers use a credit card for purchases for added protection in the case of a dispute.

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