Alternative Airlines: A Smart Way to Pay for Travel?

Alternative Airlines offers travelers more ways to pay, but it may be cheaper to book directly with the carrier.
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Written by Alisha McDarris
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Edited by Meg Lee
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If you didn’t think there were enough flight search and booking sites available on the internet, there’s yet another option: Alternative Airlines. And while it may sound more like an actual airline that simply operates a little differently, the company is nothing of the sort.

Instead, it’s an online flight aggregator and booking platform but with a handful of notable differences from typical travel booking sites — mainly when it comes to paying for flights.

But is the site a smart way to book and pay? We’ll take a look in this Alternative Airlines review.

What is Alternative Airlines?

Alternative Airlines is a flight search and booking platform similar to other online travel agents (OTAs) like Kayak and Expedia. It offers a place to search for and book global flights on over 600 airlines.

But what sets the website apart are the options when it comes to deciding how to pay for those bookings. Unlike most booking sites that offer traditional payment options like credit cards, airline miles or perhaps a buy now, pay later payment plan option such as Afterpay, Alternative Airlines offers many.

The site claims there are at least 40 payment options, including:

  • Credit cards.

  • Debit cards.

  • Numerous buy now, pay later options, including Afterpay, Affirm, Clearpay and Klarna.

  • E-wallets like Apple Pay, Cash App and Google Pay.

  • Dozens of cryptocurrencies.

  • Mobile money and bank transfers.

However, not all payment options are available in all countries.

🤓Nerdy Tip

You can filter payment options by country before searching and booking on the site so you know your options in advance.

How Alternative Airlines works

The platform will likely look similar to other booking sites you’ve used before, like Google Flights. You’ll enter preferred destinations and travel dates, search, then see available choices plus the ability to filter for options like low-emission flights, specific airlines and more.

Once you select your preferred flights, you’ll enter traveler details and select whether you want to add protections like flight cancellation or lost baggage coverage. You can also opt for other add-ons like automatic check-in and weather updates, which cost extra.

All that’s left is to choose your payment option from the drop-down lists of possibilities, then check out.

You will only be able to book flights on the site. Unlike other OTAs, Alternative Airlines doesn't allow you to search for and book hotels, cruises, rental cars or travel packages or earn points like with One Key on Expedia or Vrbo or score discounts like by bundling on Priceline. Alternative Airlines is just for flights and doesn't offer points earning programs or special savings.

Why use Alternative Airlines?

The main draw when considering whether to book with Alternative Airlines instead of another OTA or directly with an airline comes down to payment options.

If you plan to pay for your flight in full with a credit card (often the best option for earning points and miles), then you’re probably better off streamlining the process by booking directly with the airline.

However, if that airline or OTA doesn’t offer the buy now, pay later option you want, or you need to pay with a less conventional currency like crypto or PayPal, Alternative Airlines could be a viable option.

But in multiple searches for identical flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Washington-Dulles and San Francisco to New York-John F. Kennedy, booking on Expedia and airline websites was significantly cheaper than on Alternative Airlines.

Even with no add-ons or payment surcharges, the same flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Washington-Dulles booked on Alternative Airlines was $443, while both Expedia and American Airlines cost $357, a significant difference. An Alaska Airlines flight from San Francisco to New York-JFK was $526 on Alternative Airlines and $456 on Expedia.

Part of that difference is due to surcharges, including fees for using cryptocurrency and even credit cards (fees vary based on your chosen payment method), but not all of it.

Alternative Airlines is best reserved for booking when you’re more concerned with payment options than the actual bottom line. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up paying more for travel.

What happens if something goes wrong?

If you need help with booking or are having issues with travel arrangements, Alternative Airlines has a dedicated support staff that’s available seven days a week. Staffers can help you contact the airline if there’s an issue, send booking confirmations and make requested changes on your behalf.

Alternative Airlines lists a customer service phone number and WhatsApp number on its contact page, plus a help request form.

You can also manage your booking online yourself and make changes or cancellations as necessary.

That said, the site is still technically an intermediary, and — as we’ve mentioned before — passengers who book directly with airlines often have an easier time making changes, more flexible rebooking options and sometimes fewer fees.

Is Alternative Airlines legit?

Yes, Alternative Airlines is a legitimate OTA designed to offer the most possible options for paying for air travel. With a 4.7-star rating on Trustpilot (Expedia has 1.2 stars, and Priceline has 3), reviews have so far been positive.

It’s a viable way to pay for flights using less conventional payment methods. But it does tend to be more expensive than booking with other OTAs or directly with airlines, so it’s not a money-saving way to pay unless you have no other option.

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