When planning your next vacation there are many things that you will need to do in order to make it the best trip possible. Booking hotels and excursions, making restaurant reservations, and researching your destination are all things that you will want to spend time doing to make sure that you get the best value out of your time spent away from home. Hopefully you are checking several booking sources and comparing prices between them to find the best locations and prices available for what you want to do. When booking airline tickets for the trip, you will want to do the same thing.
Whenever you do a search for airfares you will most likely be presented with many options for traveling on the dates of your choice. It is important to take a close look at any of the options that you will be considering before booking. While the listed prices for a flight may look good, you may end up stuck on a routing that doesn’t suit you well time wise, or may put you in a greater risk of missing a connection.
Airline schedules can be difficult to read, especially if you are booking a fare through a mass-booking site like Expedia or Travelocity. These large sites search many different airlines and route combinations to come up with a fare price that looks good to the customer. Even if the price is good, the combination of flights could create a long day for you, the traveler. Here are few things that you should always be looking at before booking a flight.
If you are on a non-stop flight, then this is not an issue, and it is usually a good idea to book a nonstop flight when feasible. Nonstop flights limit the number of things that can go wrong during your trip. If you must make a connection then you should ensure that you have enough time between flights. Thirty minutes is not enough time to connect in most airports. If your original flight is delayed at all, then there is good chance that you will miss your next flight. Try to book flights with two hours of connect time; this will give you some cushion time in case of your original flight being delayed.
Number of connections
I have seen some pretty funky flight routings offered to passengers. When traveling, you want to take as few flights as possible to get to your destination. Try to avoid flying several flight legs, the more connections you make, the more likely you are to miss a flight.
You will also want to make sure that the routing makes sense. I once met an airline passenger who was flying from Kansas City, Missouri (MCI) to Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP) His routing to get between MCI and MSP was ridiculous. From MCI he flew to Denver (DEN) then Los Angeles (LAX), from LAX to Chicago (ORD) and finally ORD to MSP. This passenger flew several thousand additional and unnecessary miles to get to MSP. He had around 9 hours of actual flight time, and his total travel time from MCI to MSP was close to 15 hours with all of the layovers. When I asked him why he was flying so many legs to get to MSP, he let me know that the routing offered the lowest priced ticket, and he wasn’t really aware that he would be flying so much before he checked in. Lowest price or not, i wouldn’t want to do that much flying, he probably could have driven to MSP in about the same amount of time.vPay close attention to the flights that you book or you could end up spending a lot of unnecessary time on airplanes.
Total Trip Duration
When booking a flight, check the total duration of the trip, it is usually listed with the ticket price on a most major booking sites. Some offered routings might have you flying over a combination of a couple of days. If you are doing a long haul international trip, then this is normal, but flying domestically should never take more than 24 hours unless you get stuck somewhere. You don’t want to have a super short layover on connecting flights, but you probably also want to avoid layovers of longer than ten hours, unless you want to spend some time in your connecting city. Pay attention to the total travel time so that you know that you’ll arrive at your destination within a reasonable amount of time.
Nonstop or direct
There is a difference between a nonstop and a direct flight. Nonstop flights fly from your originating airport to your destination without stopping, just like the name suggests. A direct flight may make one or more stops on its way to your destination while keeping the same flight number on each flight leg. If you are taking a direct flight, you will want to pay attention at each stop. You may have to switch aircraft. Some airlines will use the same flight number for your whole trip and use different aircrafts to operate each leg. If you book a direct flight, you will want to find out where it is stopping en route to your destination, this info should be available when you book the ticket. Ask airline personnel when you check in for your flight(s) if you will need to switch aircrafts at connecting points, they should be able to let you know if you need to switch airplanes at each stop.
Find out Which Airline Will Operate Your Flights
Several airlines operate flights in cooperation with airline partners. These are called code shares. When you are looking to book a flight you will want to find out which airline is actually operating your flight so you will know who to check in with. You may book a reservation that has multiple flights that are operated by different carriers. You may also make a reservation with an airline that is not even operating any of your flights. The operating airline is not always clearly listed when you make your bookings, but you should be able to find out which carriers you will be with on each travel leg. If you book an itinerary with several different carriers then you may also have different confirmation numbers with each airline, you will want to take note of all of your confirmation numbers and have them easily accessible when you are traveling.
Know the Fees
Each airline has its own policies and fees associated with its fares. You may be subject to bag fees for both checked and carry on luggage with some airlines and other airlines will not charge you to check a bag. Once you know which airline(s) you will be flying with, you will want to check out each airline’s website to find out what to expect for fees when you check in and throughout the trip.
There are a lot of things to consider when booking a flight, and if you do not choose your flights carefully, you may not get everything that you want. Remember that the lowest fare is not always the best value. Sometimes it’s worth paying a few extra bucks to fly nonstop, or avoid lots of extra fees. As always, you should do several searches for airline tickets before deciding to book. Take your time; find out what options fit you best, and book a flight that suits all of your travel needs.
If you have any specific questions about booking airfare or would like some help with booking your next trip, please don’t hesitate to leave me a message in the comments section below or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help find the best options for you.