This article has been long overdue. I am sure many of you have already bought your holiday travel tickets so for future purchasing, here are some tips!
1) Booking sights – You can use several different sights to buy your tickets. You can find deals just about anywhere but some of the main discount sights are Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, Kayak, etc. These sights can offer some great deals but I strongly urge you to check the specific airline websites first. This is because there are many benefits that you do not see if you book with a discount website. A – The airlines look at such things as connection times. You always want to make sure that you have AT LEAST one and a half hours from the time you land to the time that you depart on the connecting flight. It takes time to deplane and time to board, not including delays. You also have to consider the walking time to the next gate or terminal, especially if it is a code share type situation and you are connecting with a different partner airline. B – Your ticket is protected if your main flight is delayed and you connected to a different code share partner airline. C – You can build your mileage points and get free tickets!
2) Hidden Fees – When you are shopping for your tickets, please keep in mind the hidden and added fees. One airline ticket may seem like a steal of a deal and too good to be true. It probably is! Think first about what you really think you should be paying to keep you and your family safe on your journey. Do you want a safe, sturdy jet that is well maintained and staffed with experienced, well trained flight crew? Look for hidden fees such as extra baggage costs for both checked and boarded luggage, seat locations and requests for seats together, food charges, etc. The demand for lower prices brought these fees about. Make sure you are aware of all them – this way Brand A with a slightly higher price on its website actually is much better than Brand B on the discount website which appears to have a lower price, but has many added fees.
3) Type of aircraft – If you are concerned at all about turbulence or comfort, you want to book your flight on the largest aircraft possible for the early morning. Also, choose your seats to be as far forward in the aircraft as possible. This way you will feel the bumps less and the early morning should be smooth for you. Be aware that the express carriers are not a part of the mainline airlines and that you may be flying on a smaller jet with less experienced pilots.
4) Reimbursements and change fees – Some airlines have pretty substantial change fees. It can be mitigated if you know ahead of time that you may need to change. It is the last minute type changes they are concerned about since they are planning their flights and routes to be most efficient. Many times, airlines need the aircraft at least 78% full in order to just break even on costs so they want to know ahead of time who is coming. They will sometimes make equipment substitutions or change jets to other routes for this reason. You can usually get reimbursed if there is enough time ahead of the notice. You must coordinate with the airlines as soon as possible. If you booked on a discount site, they too have their policies for these.
5) Best prices – You must be flexible in your plans for this. Think of the times when no one else is traveling. Some of the best times to travel are after the summer and before the holidays, just after the holidays and before spring break, and between spring break and summer. Also, all nighters can be a better deal since many people want to fly in the daytime. Certain days of the week such as Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday can get you better prices if you fly opposite times of the business travelers such as later morning and early afternoon. Flying literally on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th, etc. can get you better prices too.
6) Traveler’s insurance – If you want to make sure you are protected with funds no matter what happens, you can get traveler’s insurance. Different policies provide different things and you can tell the agents exactly what it is that you want to cover, in case unexpected situations come up.
I hope this helps give you some guidance and clarity on your ticket purchasing! Happy and safe travels during your holiday season and check out some of the other holiday and health travel tips in my other articles!