Tips To Avoid Costly Mistakes When Buying Your Airline Tickets Online
Most people buy their airline tickets online because it's much less expensive, but because you do it yourself you can also make a costly error. Here are some tips to watch out for.
- Make sure your travel dates are correct. Before you press that enter key or click submit to purchase that ticket, make sure your travel month, day, and year for the outgoing and return trips are correct. Not only will you be upset when you go to the airport and are there on the wrong day but rectifying the situation can be very costly. You will end up paying at least $100 for a change fee but also the difference in fare. There are very few airlines that allow changes without a cost to you. If you do happen to catch the error after submitting, call the online service right away or if they are uncooperative, call the airline to correct the mistake. Most airlines allow a 24-hour refund policy and you can make changes during that time.
- Make sure that the name on the ticket matches the name on your ID. This may sound obvious but if your driver's license says Victoria Smith and your boarding pass says Vic Smyth, the TSA agent may not allow you to go past security. Correcting that error might also cost you a lot of money if you can't convince the airline counter agent that you are the same person. They might require you to buy a whole new ticket or pay a change fee.
- Make sure that your connections are through the same airport. Most trips nowadays require a connection. Some passengers don't realize that some cities have more than one airport. New York City has two airports that are fairly close to each other; LaGuardia and Kennedy. Washington DC also has two airports, Reagan and Dulles. Chicago has O'Hare and Midway. Before you purchase your flights online, check to make sure that when you make a connection, that you are arriving and departing from the same airport. I have "overheard" exclamations of "What do you mean I have to go from Reagan airport to Dulles International for my connection?!" There's a reason why the price of your flight was less expensive. Whatever costs you saved may be eaten up by transportation costs to go from one airport to another. In addition, if you have checked baggage, you will have to retrieve them and recheck it at the other airport. You also have to worry whether traffic will make you late for your connection.
- Make sure you know which airport your flight is departing. Again, this happens in cities that have more than one airport. If you arrive in New York City at LaGuardia Airport, don't assume that your departure is from the same airport. Don't wait until the last minute to look at your flight to notice that your departure is from Kennedy International Airport.
- Make sure you know what airline is operating your flight. Most passengers are not aware that airlines have something called "codeshare" flights. What it means is that the airline sells you a ticket for your destination but it is operated by another airline. This arrangement was made so that the airline can sell tickets to destinations that they don't normally offer. On your itinerary, it will say what airline operates the flight, you must check-in with the airline operating the flight not the airline that sold you the ticket. If you go to the wrong airline counter, it might delay you and you may miss your flight and you may have to pay a change fee or buy a whole new ticket.
- Make sure that your connecting flights are operated by the same airline. Many online services, in order to take advantage of cheap fares will pair up flights from two different airlines to get you to your destination. For example, if you want to go to Denver from Burlington Vermont, your flight might consist of one flight from Burlington to New York City on Delta and your connection from New York City to Denver is on Frontier. If that Delta flight is delayed and causes you to be late for your connection, Frontier can only put you on their next available flight that have seats available, otherwise you are on standby. And even though Delta made you late and caused you to misconnect, their only obligation is to get you to New York City, which they did.
Be aware that buying a cheap flight might involve some extra hassle. Know what you are buying before you press submit.
From Lemonslice: Bring the credit card that you used to buy the ticket. It comes in handy if you don't have your itinerary and they can find your ticket that way.
From novascotiamiss: If you are flexible in your travel plans, do some additional research to see if prices are cheaper on different travel dates.
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