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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking Travel Online

February 8, 2018 1:48 am

Traveling is exciting and fun - and planning for your trip should be too. To help, offers the following insights on what mistakes can create a headache as you book travel online.

Check Your Airport Codes. You're looking for a cheap flight to Orlando, Florida. As you begin your search, you see ORD populate. The kids are screaming with excitement knowing they have endless theme parks ahead of them and you accidentally select that pre-populated option. Checking airport codes is one of the most important parts of purchasing travel online because instead of booking a trip to Orlando (MCO) you actually end up with a flight to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD).

Keep in mind that not all codes directly correspond to the city they are located in. Some match up nicely like Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS), but others can be misleading, such as ONT. This is the code for Ontario International Airport located near Los Angeles—not Ontario, Canada. Another frequent mistake occurs when a city with the same name exists in different countries, such as San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) and San Jose, California (SJC).

This mistake can easily be avoided by spelling out the exact destination in your search. Also, always double check your itinerary before booking. If you are unsure of the airport code, a simple internet search can help clarify.

Read the Fine Print. The Fare Rules and Regulations of a flight can be daunting. Small words that run pages and pages appear on a screen while all you want to do is complete your transaction. Policies and procedures are unique for every airline, flight, and ticket, and they can vary tremendously. Scan through the fine print and look for sections such as the following:

- Refunds: Not all flights are 100 percent refundable, even in the worst case scenario. If you don't see anything in this section specifically mentioning medical reasons, death, or bereavement there is no guarantee that you will be able to cancel your ticket for a full or partial refund.

- Changes: Most airlines charge a fee when a passenger requests a change to their ticket,

. including name changes, date changes, and origin or destination changes.

The Fare Rules will spell out exactly what you can do and how much it will cost.  If it doesn't explicitly say something, don't assume that it is allowed. Travel insurance is a great way to add extra security in case of any emergency situations that may occur.

Look Out For Additional Costs. These days, the airfare is only a small portion of the total cost of a flight. Ancillary fees can range from luggage surcharges, to seat selection fees, to the soda and snack box you buy on the plane. The pricing structure varies from airline to airline so it's important to be aware of what is mandatory versus what can be avoided. For example, you may be able to pay for your luggage online at a discounted rate as opposed to on the day of your flight. This will not only save you money, but it will also save you time on your travel day. It is recommended to calculate all the costs that come along with booking a certain ticket before actually booking. The fare plus all of the additional costs on one airline may end up being more expensive than an all-inclusive fare on another airline.

Make All of Your Preferences Known. Not every trip that is booked online is the same and neither is every traveler. If you have special circumstances that require attention, make them known as soon as possible. Some common requests are for special meals, handicapped persons, unaccompanied minors, or infants traveling on your lap. Make a list of your travel preferences and if they are not listed online in the booking process, contact a CheapOair customer care agent before booking for guidance on how to proceed.

Double Check the Confirmation. You are almost ready, but before you click "Book Now": DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING. Finalize your personal information and assure everything is correct. Remember that the name on your ticket must exactly match your driver's license or passport including first, middle, and last name. Pay attention to the spelling, numbered addresses, and contact information, your origin and destination, and of course the travel dates.

Once you've booked, make sure you receive your confirmation email, print out any necessary documents, and store them in a safe place. Always confirm any reservations a few days before a trip to make sure no changes have surfaced prior to your takeoff.


Published with permission from RISMedia.