What airlines or travel agents do not tell you
NOT Your Average Air Travel Guide. All you need to know about the air travel whether it is your 1st or 101st trip
This is your Ultimate Travel Guide and Travel Tips.
You do not need to be a pro to travel well and know what travel professionals do. Here you will find a sum up of tips and information on air travel, airline tickets, how to find best deals, how to "play" with your travel search to find best air fares, connections, what to ask travel agent or airline agent, air travel dos and don'ts, etc... If you at least read all this, learn all or most of the information provided (or just carry with you), consider yourself among the top 5% of the travelers and much further ahead than majority of the travelers.
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Flying Across the Ocean can be an Experience Much Different Than Domestic Travel
While many around the United States have traveled in the air across the country, or even to Canada and Mexico, many others have never traversed an ocean in flight. This can be quite a different type of flight for people who have never experience it. It is not drastically different enough to make you run out to get travel insurance, but you would need to do some ... Continue Reading ...
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Free Printable Travel Checklist
10 TIPS HOW to TRAVEL WISE
Whether you're headed just for a short trip by car, flying to a different state, or traveling oversees, this will help pack all the essentials you might need and not to forget things.
Here is your FREE travel packing checklist.
Print it out, Pack it in, and Check it off the list!
You can also download the list here Free Printable Travel Checklist
How to Buy Cheap Airline Tickets
Best Airfare Deals
In order to find the best flight fares and schedules you need to know WHEN and WHERE to look and HOW to search. Yes, it is that easy, and all you need to know is several tricks.
First of all, do you need a domestic or an international travel ticket?
Domestic Air Travel
These can be US domestic, within Europe, or within any country or other continent. If you are looking great deals on such tickets, you need to know WHERE to look for best fares. If you are looking for flights within the US, your best shot might be US local airlines, and not necessarily travel agencies. Airlines compete among each other and they will give the best deals (just know WHEN to look). Travel agencies, on the other hand, might not your best bet for US domestic travel because they have to use the same fares as airlines offer, but usually with 0 commission. Since agencies need to survive, they are forced to add a small service fee on the top of the ticket price. If you do not mind that, call your travel agent or best of all go online and check flights yourself.
If you're traveling within Europe, you might want to contact a travel agent or search online travel agents' websites first. In Europe local travel agencies and agencies outside Europe that specialize in international travel (like www.Faretex.com ) will have low fares because they use very low so called consolidator fares. This is nothing else, but negotiated contracts with airlines to sell special very low priced airline tickets.
International Air Travel
If you're a resident of the US, traveling to or within Europe is your international travel. So check out information on travel within Europe above.
What concerns transatlantic, transpacific or other between countries international travel, your best bet is a travel agency. The consolidators will offer you the best fare deals and will find you the best schedules. Depending on personal preferences, some might prefer talking to a travel agent, while others would want to do their own fare search online at their own pace. There is no right or wrong choice here. As long as you find a flight and a fare that works for you, you succeed.
HOW to find a travel agency or a good travel website
Always work with the travel agent or travel website that specializes in your travel destination or region. For example, if you need to fly from the US to Europe, search for 'flights to Europe' or so. Usually online search will give you best results. Check several websites or call several travel agents and compare the deals.
NOTE, you might know lots of huge agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. They might seem attractive to you because they're big and well known. But they will not always give you the best flight, hotel or cruise deals. They might be good for US domestic travel, but not always for international travel.
WHEN and HOW to search for the lowest airfares and cheapest flights
Where you need a flight, hotel or a cruise, you need to know how to find the best fares and when to look for those.
Let's say that you found a travel agent or travel website that specialized in your travel destination.
5 tips on How to Find the Cheapest Airline Tickets:
- Be Flexible. In order to find lowest price, you might need to be flexible on travel dates, arrival/departure times, airlines, and sometimes destinations. If you read a section on "How to Change an Airline Ticket", you'll find information on the structure of the ticket fares. In short, there are different price levels for every flight and the only difference is the price and number of seats an airline assigns to that price level. Therefore, all depends on when you buy a ticket, how popular is the destination, travel season (peak or low), and how full the flight gets.
- Book domestic travel tickets (this applied to some international travel as well) as early as you can. Most domestic airlines have best fares with 21, 14, and 7 day advance purchase. This means that you may find lower fares when booking (= purchasing) a flight this many days before the flight.
- 'Play' with the search. This means that you need to be creative when searching for flights. Check flights couple days or weeks (if possible) earlier and later, check various airlines, different connections (an airline might have several hubs or fly with 1 or several connections), search based on price and try searching based on schedule (you'll see different results) .
- Check travel package deals. If the purpose of your travel is vacation, instead of booking flights, hotel, and car rental separately, check on travel package rates. Sometimes your total package rate is lower that if you book everything separately.
- Use miles or points when possible. Apply for airline/ hotel/ car rental, etc. frequent traveler programs. They are FREE, and you can get lots of benefits. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a hotel room when Hilton Hotel is in my destination. Check out Hilton Honors website here. Go to the airline, car rental, or hotel websites and sign up. The only disadvantage of using miles and points is that you need to book your travel early as there is limited number of seats for miles or points on the plane and they go fast.
If you cannot decide whether to use an airline or a travel agent, here are some suggestions.
AIRLINE vs. TRAVEL AGENT or TRAVEL AGENCY WEBSITE
Advantages of booking a ticket with an airline:
- you are talking directly to the carrier, the entity responsible for a flight
- it may take much less time to deal with the airline directly (if an agent knows his/her job)
- airline customers representatives are usually open 24/7
Advantages of using travel agents or travel websites:
- lower negotiated (consolidator) fares
- more flight options; travel agents/travel websites search all possible airlines, not just one
- low fares available 24/7 given that an agency has a online booking system
Send in your comments on how you find your best deals, and we'll be happy to share them with the rest of the world.
Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or make a comment here on the lens, and we'll make sure to provide your questions are answered and topics covered.
E-ticket or Electronic Ticket
E-ticket is an electronic form of a paper ticket. Flight reservation is made as usual, but an agent issues an electronic equivalent of the traditional paper ticket. The flight information is not printed on the ticket, but it saved in the airline' reservation system. Usually, a passenger receives a booking confirmation number (#9 on the paper ticket below) and itinerary showing the flight(s) details and/or e-ticket passenger receipt. Also, check out a sample e-ticket receipt coupon and receipt with itinerary in the picture. There is basically no much difference from the traditional paper ticket receipt.
Benefits of an E-ticket:
** CANNOT lose or misplace a ticket
** No paper ticket issued
** Can check-in online on the airline's website or electronic kiosks at the airport; on some occasions you can even check your bags online
** Can be purchased at the last minute online 24/7
** No need to wait for a ticket to be mailed
** No need to reissue a paper ticket if you need to change or refund it
** Email confirmation is all you need to travel
Disadvantages of an E-ticket:
** Usually there is very limited information on the E-ticket coupon. So in case of the reservation system malfunction, there might be complications if a passenger needs to change an electronic ticket.
** There might be some challenges to reissue an electronic ticket if a passenger needs to be transferred to another airline especially when flight cancellations occur due to non-weather related reasons. Airlines may use different procedures, reservation systems, and networks, and they are not always compatible.
A paper ticket is a traditional ticket that has a paper coupon for each travel segment, and this form is still used in the travel industry. After booking a flight, an agent issues a hard copy (=coupon pass ticket) of the flight reservation and a passenger receives a ticket consisting of paper coupons for each flight segment plus a passenger receipt. This ticket is required during at check in to exchange for a boarding pass.
If your agent issues a paper ticket, make sure you save the passenger receipt (the last coupon) for your records throughout the travel.
Disadvantages of a paper ticket:
** In case of reissue (if a passenger lost a ticket), there can be a fee and in some cases a passenger may be asked to buy a new ticket.
** If a passenger needs to change the ticket, he or she will be required to present an old ticket to the agent. Usually, the change or refund is not possible without the original ticket.
** Some airlines charge for a paper ticket
Advantages of a paper ticket:
** Most of your travel information is recorded on the ticket. This is very helpful if the airline reservation system is down or if the flight is canceled due to some mechanical (usually non-weather related) reasons. Other airlines are able to "read" the original flight information from your paper ticket coupons.
** Paper ticket are very useful when traveling internationally as some countries require the proof of return travel, and a paper ticket contains such information.
You will almost always get a paper ticket for an infant (a child under 2 years old) who travels with no seat.
Note, always make sure that the agent takes the correct travel coupon from your ticket. You might have some issues on the next leg of the trip if an agent accidentally takes the wrong one. This does not happen often, but I suggest double checking than going through unnecessary trouble.
Can't find cheap International airline tickets?
Plane tickets online
www.FARETEX.com is the best consolidator airfare (=lowest contractual fares with airlines) site that can meet most of your travel needs like booking hotels, car rentals, cruises, and finding best international flights deals. The focus is on international travel, so you will find the cheapest air fares to Europe and other countries.
The trick in finding the best fares is that you need to be flexible on dates. All depends on availability and sales. So when searching for air fares, check for a few days or a week earlier or later flights. You will be able to find the seats for the lowest prices.
While you're on the website, don't forget to play the best Pilot Game ever and test your knowledge of the US.
How to CHANGE an Airline Ticket
For some of us it may be very easy to make changes while others would not know where to start. You can change a ticket yourself by calling an airline directly or ask an agent who issued a ticket help you on that.
In most cases you need to contact the ticket issuer - your travel agency or an airline. Usually the airline will not talk to you and refer you back to the agency if a travel agency issued your ticket, unless you want to change the return trip and you have already flown a portion of your trip. Read more under "Travel Date Change" below.
If your name is misspelled on the ticket, it is very likely that you need to change it and have your name corrected. Most airlines allow some misspelling on the name as long as the first 4 letters are spelled correctly. So check with the carrier you're flying what you need to do.
The regular procedure is to do the exchange, which is to cancel (in technical language to VOID a ticket) the original ticket and issue a new one. Another option you may have is to refund a ticket and issue a new one. In some cases you might be asked to pay for such procedures unless this is an agent's mistake; a travel agency or an airline may waive the fees associated with exchange or refund.
Note, in most cases gate agents are the decision maker. If they decide that you're good to go even with a misspelled name, you will be fine until the next check in point. However, they may decline letting you on board even with one misspelled letter.
Travel Date or Route Change
This procedure is very similar to the name change. The most common ticket change type is the date change. You may need to change departure and return or one of these dates. If you need to change the ticket date before you depart, you need to contact a travel agent or an airline agent, whoever issued your ticket. If the ticket is issued by a travel agency, the airline might not be able to make changes and may ask to contact a travel agency. This happens mostly because there are so many different fares (even for the same airline); each travel agency can have different ticket fares and rules for the same flights.
If you need to change the return trip date, especially if you have already used a portion of your ticket, usually this is done with an airline directly. If you are booked on several airlines, contact the airline that has issued a ticket. You may find that information (if travel agency is an issuer) on top right corner of your ticket above the passenger's name, whether it is a paper or electronic ticket receipt. If you travel internationally or have a transatlantic flight, contact the airline that is flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
Usually there is a fee to exchange your ticket, but sometimes you may need to pay even more to change a ticket. The most common reason is lack of availability. For example, if your original booking is on Q class, but at the time of the exchange only H class is available, you might need to pay a change fee plus the upgrade to the next available fare.
This is the most common misconception and frustration on the passenger side when they are asked to pay more than the change fee. From the agent's perspective, there is much more than just finding you a seat, an agent need to find a seat in the same service class as per the original ticket. If availability is 0 in such class, certain rules need to be followed to upgrade, etc.
TIP In my world, there is no such thing as unchangeable ticket or when the airline says changes are not allowed. From over 10 years of experience in the air travel industry, I can tell that 99% of the time your ticket can be changed and you do not have to lose money and throw ticket away if you cannot travel.
Ask the airline (not a travel agency, airlines dictate the rules) miracle questions:
- Can you cancel my trip and can I have the money paid apply as a credit towards the next trip? If they say yes, you will get a credit that you may use next time you travel on this particular airline.
- Can I prepay towards the next available service class, in other words, upgrade my ticket? In this case, you'd need to pay the difference between what you have paid and what fare is available at the time of the ticket reissue.
You can always get a travel insurance to feel safe (always know the terms and what situations do not qualify for the refund of your money).
Got Bumped off the Flight? Flight Overbooking
Best Seats on a Plane
Did you know that all airlines overbook flights by at least 10%?
Yes, this is true. This happens because airlines want to protect themselves in the case of cancellations and no-shows. There will always be people not showing up for their flights or those who need to cancel a trip at the last minute. If airlines do nothing, there will be many empty seats on planes and airlines might not be able to fill those up the last minute. Therefore, airlines sell more tickets than there are seats on the plane.
Pre-assigned seats. Get Seats on a Plane Reserved
If you travel on peak days or during the peak season, always get a seat confirmation (a seat number) as soon as possible even if the ticket is not purchased yet (yes, it is possible). If there are no "good" seats left or no seats together (if you need more than one seat), get whatever is available. The fact is that if the flight is full and overbooked/ oversold, and you do not have a confirmed seat, i.e. you do not have a seat number, you will be the first one bumped off the flight. Some statistic show that one in every 10 people gets bumped off the flight because of overbooking (especially in the US); this seems rather exaggeration, but on some airlines it might be true.
Therefore, make sure you have seat numbers as soon as you get the flights booked. If you do not like what is available at the time of booking, you can try changing the seats at check-in.
Most airlines have a number of seats reserved for check-in only. So get to the airport early and you may even get a bulkhead or exit row seats (with more legroom). However, some airlines, especially in Europe, might not be able to book you seats in advance, only at check-in. So arrive early to the airport.
Voluntary or involuntary flight rescheduling?
Yes, when an airline sells more tickets than there are seats on a plane and the flight full, it is very likely that some passengers will be left behind or bumped off the flight.
It may be voluntary or involuntary. Funny, ah?
When a flight is full and oversold, the first thing an airline agent does is look for volunteers who agree to give up their seats and be rebooked on a next flight. Usually airlines give some kind of incentives or compensation for a passenger to give up a seat. These might be frequent flyer miles, food vouchers, ticket vouchers, cash, free tickets, etc.
Want to Volunteer?
If you are not in a hurry and want to try to reduce the cost of flying, this might seem attractive and you can volunteer to be bumped. Usually airlines are more willing to compensate you (cash, vouchers, tickets, etc.) if you volunteer to give up your seat. But remember that not every agent or airline will give you a voucher, extra frequent flyer miles, or a free ticket if you don't ask for it. So go for it, it does not hurt to ask.
If you decide to volunteer to switch to a different flight, always weigh your options and know the restrictions of the "free" stuff you are offered.
- What you get if you give up your seat; money (don't confuse with airline dollars, it is not the same), hotel voucher in case of overnight, food, miles, etc.
- When is the next flight and How long you need to wait until the next flight and whether it is worth waiting
- Whether the airline offers a standby or a confirmed seat for the next flight (if you get a standby, it is not a confirmed seat and you will be on that flight ONLY if there are seats left)
No Volunteers? - No Problem
If there are no volunteers to switch to another flight, any passenger may get bumped off the flight, there is nothing illegal in this. Usually passengers with children or high tier frequent flyers might be the last ones to be bumped, but all depends on the airline agent.
If the airline needs to do the involuntary rescheduling for some passengers, it always (unless some rules changed) has to issue a written statement to include who and why gets bumped, the passenger rights, etc. Usually airlines are not willing to compensate for the involuntary rescheduling unless it requires an overnight stay, so they may just provide some minor incentives.
--- IMPORTANT ---
If you get rescheduled for a flight that will get you to the destination within 1 hour, you will not get compensated in any way for the inconvenience.
If the airline arranges some transportation for you to reach the destination with 1-2 hours of your original scheduled arrival, you should be compensated. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, you should get "an amount equal to your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $400 maximum." Some airlines are just ignoring this regulation because people do not know and they do not ask for that.
The later you reach your destination due to the involuntary rescheduling, the more compensation you are entitled to receive given that you:
- had a confirmed reservation
- checked-in on time and were present within the given deadlines at the gate
You can read more on the Department of Transportation regulations on the matter here http://airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#overbooking
Always demand compensation of any kind if an airline schedules you on a flight that requires you to spend a night or if your rescheduled flight gets you to the destination 2 or 4 or more hours of your original scheduled arrival time.
As always there are exceptions to the rule, when delay/rescheduling occurs due to safety or weather conditions or when traveling internationally (especially inbound travel to the US, e.g. flying from Europe to the US). In these cases airlines will rarely provide you with any kind of compensation.
If your travel involves European countries, you can find more details on air passenger rights from European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/air_en.htm .
Good news is that if you get bumped off the flight, you always get to keep your original flight ticket that can be used towards another flight with the same carrier. If you choose so, you may also seek for "involuntary refund" for the portion of flight that you got bumped.
Flight Ticket Picture / Receipt
1 - Passenger's Name
2 - Route
3 - Ticket Number
4 - Flight Number (Airline Code + Flight Number)
5 - Ticket Booking Class
6 - Date of Journey
7 - Local Departure Time
8 - Baggage Allowance (kg - kilograms, PC - piece concept for US/Transatlantic flights)
9 - Ticket Reservation Number - Unique Booking Code
10 - Ticket Restrictions (Refundable/Changeable/ etc. )
11 - Fare Basis (Number that identified ticket rules for the ticket issuer)
12 - Weight limit/ allowance
Note, some information is for an agent or airline (e.g. Fare Basis, #11)
Information on your Airline Ticket (continued)
1- PASSENGER's NAME
A passenger's name must be spelled exactly as it appears on the passport. Forget the driver's license and nicknames, especially if you travel outside the US. If you notice that your name is not spelled correctly, immediately contact your travel agent or airline and fix the error. Usually a passenger's name cannot be changed after the ticket is issued. Depending on the airline, an unwritten rule has always been that the first 4 letters of the passenger's last name should be spelled correctly. Keep in mind that most gate agents follow this, but on some occasions you may be asked to buy a new ticket. Therefore, before buying, actually paying for the ticket, make sure your name is spelled correctly; ask for an email or fax or other form of media with your travel itinerary.
This is your travel route: to and from cities. When you see an 'X', this means a transit city or connection, where you spend less than 24 hours. Sometimes you may also see 'O' on the left side of the city, this will show you the city where you have a stopover, more than a 24 hour stop.
3- TICKET NUMBER
This is your unique airline ticket number - your proof that the ticket was issued. Usually the first 3 digits signify the airline code. Each airline has a 3 digit code unique to the airline (e.g. in the ticket sample it would be 021). This number is followed by the actual ticket number or otherwise called ticket stock number.
4- FLIGHT NUMBER
This is the airline 2 letter code followed by the flight number (e.g. DL 032 would stand for DL = Delta airlines, 032 - flight number for that particular airline)
5- TICKET BOOKING CLASS
This is usually a letter which shows in what the service class your flight is booked. The service class can usually be either coach, business, or first. Some airlines have upgraded coach classes, others have one service class for business and first.
There are maybe 10 or so coach service classes and several business and first classes. The differences between all these coach classes are the price and the rules; the more you pay for the ticket, the less restrictions the ticket has. That's it. You will not get better seats nor will receive more benefits or better service if you buy a more expensive ticket. The airlines have certain number of seats available for each tier of prices. When the lowest price tickets get sold, you'd need to pay more to get on a flight. You may pay $200 for a ticket and sit next to a passenger who pays $1000 for a ticket in the same coach class. Business and first class fares may also have several price tiers. However, most of these fares allow free changes and no fee refunds.
TIP: some airlines allow free upgrade to business class if you pay a so called full 'Y' class fare for a ticket (most expensive unrestricted coach class fare).
6- DATE OF JOURNEY
This is your travel date. Usually it is a day and a 3-letter month code.
7- LOCAL DEPARTURE TIME
Time when your flight is schedule to depart. Always know the local time as this time is always based on local time zone.
Note, be very cautious if you're traveling during the daylight saving time or other time changing events. The reservation systems might not recognize the time change in advance and on some occasions you might need to reschedule or reroute your trip due to the lack of connection time.
9- TICKET RESERVATION NUMBER
Otherwise called as record locator is your unique reservation number. Since electronic tickets almost took over the ticketing world, in many cases the reservation number is sufficient for your travel. These codes and combinations are different for each airline.
10- TICKET RESTRICTIONS
Abbreviated form of basic ticket restrictions and rules such as changeable or not, refundable or not, penalty/fee amount if any, and airline validity.
11- FARE BASIS
This is a code or a number of rules and restrictions for a particular flight on a certain airline. Usually only the airline agent or travel agent can access and provide you with information on these rules and restrictions.
12- BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE
Numbers or letter in this box tell you how much you are allowed to check-in at no cost. Usually this is either in kilograms (e.g. 20kg ) or piece concept (PC) especially within the US and on Transatlantic flights. Each airline may have different baggage allowance, so be sure to ask your agent about each travel segment allowance.
Note, on many occasions you will have different baggage limit allowance, especially if you travel outside the US. For example, if you travel to Europe with one connection, but have 2 separate tickets issued, it is very likely that both tickets will have different baggage allowances. This will definitely be the case if you stop in European city for more than 24 hours (=stopover) and you will need to pay excess baggage fee because most flights in Europe allow only 20kg checked-in baggage per passenger at no cost.
Travel Insurance - How to get the best Coverage and Lowest Cost Travel Insurance
Travel Guard - Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a way to minimize the considerable financial risks of traveling. These risks include accidents, illness, missed flights, canceled tours, lost baggage, emergency evacuation, and getting your body home if you die. Each traveler's risk and potential loss varies, depending on how much of the trip is prepaid, the kind of air ticket purchased, your state of health, the value of your luggage, where you're traveling, the financial health of the tour company or airline, and what coverage you already have (through your medical insurance, homeowners' or renters' insurance, or credit card).
For some travelers, insurance is a good deal; for others, it's not. What are the chances of needing it? How willing are you to take risks? What is peace of mind worth to you (especially if it's only 2-6% of your travel cost)?
GET A QUOTE NOW from Travel Guard NOW
Main Travel Insurance Plans
Basic Plan includes essential travel insurance coverages (trip cancellation, interruption and delay; lost, stolen, delayed or damaged baggage; emergency medical treatment or evacuation) and 24-hour emergency travel assistance. This plan does not cover trip cancellation coverage for financial default or pre-existing medical conditions.
Our Silver Plan is for your clients who are traveling individually or with their family and want standard coverage and access to our 24-hour emergency travel assistance services. Now including increased medical and emergency evacuation coverages, this plan provides even more benefits when purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment, including coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and financial default. Each child 17 and under is covered at no additional cost for each adult that purchases this plan.
Gold Plan is our most popular package of travel insurance & assistance services. Offering comprehensive coverage for individual clients or clients with families, this plan now includes Cancel for Work Reasons (including job loss) in the base plan and primary medical and Emergency Evacuation coverages. Children 17 and under are also covered at no additional cost! And, if your clients purchase this plan within 15 days of their initial trip payment, this plan provides additional benefits for pre-existing medical conditions and financial default. Optional coverages include Cancel for Any Reason and Medical Evacuation home or to the hospital of choice.
Our Platinum Plan is for travelers who want the most comprehensive package of travel insurance coverage and assistance services. If you are looking for the total package that includes coverage for our highest level of medical services, plus additional benefits when purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment, then this is the package for you! The Platinum Plan also covers for pre-existing medical conditions, financial default - even trip cancellation due to job loss and other covered work reasons! You can also upgrade your Platinum Plan to include optional coverages like Cancel for Any Reason and Medical Evacuation home or to the hospital of your choice!
Need Basic Plan Comparison with Travel Guard?
Go to faretex.com/travel-insurance
ALL TRAVELINSURANCE PLANS:
My Travel Guard
MedEvac per trip plan - Individual
MedEvac per trip plan - Family
MedEvac Annual - Individual
MedEvac Annual - Family
Ready 2 Travel Plan
Car Rental Collision Insurance
Worldwide Health International $50,000 - $1,000,000 Plans
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Don't Get Bumped off th Flight - Travel tips, find cheap airline tickets
- Flight Overbooking, Seat Assignment
Air Travel tips, how to find the best travel deals, cheap airline tickets.