What Do I Need to Know Before I Book a Flight Online?

The advent of online booking has increased the ease and speed of travel planning for many globe-trotters. When booking an upcoming flight, however, it can frustrating to realize that you've forgotten a particular item or that there was a better deal possible. To avoid these online booking snafus, approach the online fight ticket booking process with a list of things to watch for.


 

Planning Ahead

Booking an online flight can seem as simple as purchasing a shirt from a favorite online retailer. It's not. A plane ticket purchase is a binding contact that can be difficult to change, especially if you're purchasing a coach ticket. Depending on the vendor or airline, changes or cancellations can cost between $75 and $150 per ticket, per flight. Refundable tickets are available, but they come at a premium price. Skip later pain by solidifying your schedule before purchasing your plane ticket.

Geography

To get the best deal, it helps to know the airport and region in which you're traveling. Although the legacy carriers have service to a wide range of places, they often don't have the lowest prices. There may be a low-cost company that has a better deal to the exact same destinations.

Look up your destination airport to see the full list of carriers. From there, check all of the company websites to determine which carrier is offering the best price at the moment. At the very least, you'll get an idea of the usual price range of travel to and from that particular airport, which can also be a money-saver.

Price Hacks

Take time to search for discount and coupon codes before making your ticket purchase. In slow times, some airlines send out promotions to customers to drum up sales, like many other businesses. In turn, some recipients pass on the savings to others on message boards and coupon code sites. Before clicking that button to confirm your purchase, simply search for "X discount codes" or "Z coupon code." You may not always find a useful coupon, but the Internet may surprise you.

Warning

If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If a business is advertising flight tickets that are substantially lower in cost than other comparable travel websites or carriers, something may be amiss. According to Internet Fraud Watch, "You may find that a travel offer requires you to make reservations through a specific company and that the costs are higher than they would be if you used your own travel agent or made the arrangements yourself. Or the offer may be valid only if you bring a companion along at full fare." Always read the fine print, check FAQs and call for help if anything is confusing or seems overstated.

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