How often has this happened to you? You have booked your flight, packed, and prepared in every other way for your upcoming trip. Then you double check your flights and find you have made a crucial error.
This is distressing but no cause for shame. It happens to the best of us.
There are many ways that booking flights can go awry, from selecting the wrong travel dates to simply overpaying. Fortunately, these mistakes are avoidable.
We will show you how to avoid them now, with 10 tips for booking flights that will ensure you never make a mistake again. Read on to arm yourself the knowledge of an expert traveler.
10 Tips for Booking Flights Right the First Time
Some of the most obvious tips do not appear on this list. We all know not to book flights too late. While it is bound to happen from time to time, we thought it best not to put that tip on our list when we could use that spot to highlight less obvious aspects of booking flights.
Check out the tips we did select, and see if you learn something.
1. Research the In-Flight Experience
“Booking flights right” does not just mean “booking flights cheap.” It means maximizing the travel experience. Booking an uncomfortable or horrific flight is a surefire way to start off your trip on the wrong foot.
You can avoid this mistake by comparing airlines with similar fares. Which is more important to you, a plethora of entertainment options or ample leg room? Do you need accommodations for flying with an infant?
You can find out which airlines are best for your particular needs at sites like Hipmunk and Routehappy.
2. Triple Check Your Cities AND Airports
The difference between Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon can be a soul crusher when you see the wrong destination on your itinerary. As obvious as it may seem, this mistake is easy to make when you are set to pounce on the cheapest fare you can find. Always make sure you have the right city in your basket before you click “buy.”
Equally important is booking the right airport near your destination. You may not think there is much of a difference between Midway and O’Hare or Kennedy and LaGuardia, but one of these options may be much more convenient, depending on where you stay.
You may also want to consider alternate airports that are still nearby to get the cheapest fares. Did you know the Cincinnati airport is actually across the Ohio River in Kentucky? Flying into Dayton sometimes can be cheaper and involve less time in traffic.
3. Claim Your Travel Refund for Delays
Flying smart applies to more than the booking process. There are some mistakes you can’t avoid, namely the ones the airlines make themselves.
If you are on the receiving end of a lengthy delay, you may be entitled to a partial refund of your flight costs. When this happens, make sure to file a flight delay claim. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.
4. Clear Your Browser’s Cache and Cookies
There are reports that booking sites and airlines use your web browser’s cookies to boost ticket prices. They can do this by keeping track of routes you search, which trains their algorithms to raise prices on flights that are particularly desirable to you.
You can avoid this shady practice by clearing your browser’s cookies-and your cache, for good measure-so you appear as a new customer every time you search.
5. Avoid Traveling on Fridays and Sundays
You will always save money when you travel on off days. Fridays and Sundays are the opposite of off days. Until the weekend changes or companies become much more liberal with vacation days, you are wise to avoid these high-volume travel days if at all possible.
6. Don’t Forget the Incidental Fees
Frontier, Spirit, and JetBlue. What do they all have in common?
Yes, they usually offer the most cost-effective fares you will see on comparison sites. They also all require extra fees for checked bags.
Base fares do not tell the full story of a flight’s cost. Make sure you know the all-inclusive price of each flight when you book, especially if you are flying with luggage.
7. Don’t Book Too Early!
Like we said before, we all know not to book too late. But booking too early can rip you off just as much!
Flights can go on sale up to 11 months before departure, but those initial prices do not take into account the popularity of individual flights. If a flight goes underbooked for long enough, the price can drop within a few months of its departure date. Planning ahead is great, but don’t plan too far ahead if you want to save money.
8. Enter All of the Right Names
This is especially important when you are booking flights for a group. It is easy to get your own name right, but remembering the names on everyone’s IDs is much trickier.
We recommend not relying on your memory at all. Before you book your flight, check each passenger’s ID. That way, you can enter it exactly as printed and avoid getting turned away by the TSA.
9. Book on a Tuesday
Flying on a Tuesday is great. You are avoiding those dreaded busy weekend days. But booking on a Tuesday is even better.
Fares vary from day to day, and the ideal time to book a U.S. domestic flight is 3 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. This lull period is ripe for you to take advantage.
10. Remain Flexible
This is less of a tip than a mindset. The more flexible you are able to be with destinations and with dates, the more money you will save. Alternate airports and weekday travel dates are only the beginnings of the cost-saving measures you can implement with this mindset.
Another way to save some money is to check hotel deals before you book your flights. If you find a deal you just can’t pass up, seize it and wait for the flights to match.
Take Charge of the Sky
With these tips for booking flights in your back pocket, you can travel with confidence. Not only will you book the most comfortable flight, but you will save money doing so.
Once you have booked your flights, it is time to focus on the more important parts of your travels, like learning how to make a commemorative travel video.