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.

Reader Tips

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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Comments 12 comments

Lemon Slice profile image

Lemon Slice 4 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

nice one flight keeper ! there is one more i would like to add .. Make sure you carry the credit card you have used to book the ticket. In some countries, it is mandatory and the check-in counter staff will ask for it ..

do check out my post if at all you plan to travel via dubai ... [url][/url]

novascotiamiss profile image

novascotiamiss 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

Flightkeeper: This is an excellent hub and very useful. I purchase most of my flights online and I do agree, you have to be so careful. One more tip: If you are flexible, play around with multiple travel dates. It's amazing how much the prices can vary just by a day or 2.

tiss's world profile image

tiss's world 4 years ago

novascotiamiss.. you are right if you are flexible with your dates you can save a lot of money.

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast Author

@Lemonslice, that's a very good tip. Sometimes something goes wrong in the computer and having the credit card is a great way to find your ticket if you don't have your itinerary with you.

@novascotiamiss, thanks for the tip. I'll add it to the hub.

@tiss's world, thanks for your visit.

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast Author

Hi davecurrtis, I think the majority of people do buy tickets online because it's convenient and it's the best way to find the most inexpensive ticket. Thanks for the read.

poppi profile image

poppi 4 years ago

Hi, I really enjoyed reading your HUB.

Very good information, it seems that the airlines are against us.

They charge now for everything from baggage to water. Booking is just as hard also you really have to look closily on any hidden fees.

I do have one question what day is the best day to purchase tickets?

I have heard and read tuesday, then again thursday never on weekends sometimes it gets confusioning.

Thank you for your Hub

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast Author

Hi poppi, just like any business, airlines are there to make money. Their business margins are not that high and they usually operate at a loss. Because of this, you do have to read the fine print on the fees because it's one way of adding to their bottom line.

Regarding when to buy, I notice that if you buy at least two weeks in advance, it's usually cheaper. Flying on a Saturday, Tuesday, or Wednesday there's usually cheaper seats. I also like the Travelzoo Top 20 deals to look out for cheap flights.

poppi profile image

poppi 4 years ago

When you said the Travelzoo top 20 deals "LOOK OUT" for cheap flights, is that in a GOOD way or look out (stay away)


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast Author

In a good way. And you have to act fast because those deals get snapped up quick.

poppi profile image

poppi 4 years ago

Thank You, great HUB

Thundermama profile image

Thundermama 3 years ago from Canada

Super hub, you'd think that travel sites would sort this stuff out for you, or warn you about it, but they don't. We got caught once by not double checking our details and had the trip from hell. Never again.

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 3 years ago from The East Coast Author

I'm glad you found the hub useful Thundermama. Mistakes are either costly or timeguzzlers.

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