Travel Tips: Five Mistakes to Avoid When Booking Online CheapOair Staff October 12, 2011 general 1 Comment Check Your Airport Codes Traveling is simple and fun and the process of booking travel should be as well. Vacations are an investment that can be costly, but is overall rewarding and priceless in itself. Why risk ruining what can be a fun family vacation or solo trip? The excitement of clicking “Book” can easily make anyone miss a few important steps that could possibly ruin parts of your trip. Be a savvy travel booker and pay attention to the following travel tips for five criteria when booking online: Check airport codes: All you know is that you live by JFK and you want to get to Orlando, Florida, which has an airport code of MCO. You can't remember that, so the only code you see that starts with O is ORD, but that is to Chicago International. The kids are screaming to book the Walt Disney package and you are tongue tied with letters. Checking airport codes is the most important part of booking a trip online. Not all codes correspond to the city they are located in. Some match up nicely like Amsterdam’s Schipol airport which is AMS, but others can be misleading, such as Frankfurt International Airport, which has a code of FRA. A traveler who might be booking too quickly or inexperienced may think this is the code for France and end up in Germany! This simple mistake can be avoided by spelling out the exact destination city in your search. Try to read the fine print: Face it; sometimes the rules and regulations of a flight can be daunting. Small words appear on a screen and all you want to do is click “Book now” because you’re thinking: “Who reads these things anyway?” Policies and procedures are unique for every flight or booking agent and can vary tremendously. Pay attention by scanning through the fine print and look for sections such as the following: • Blackout dates: Specific dates fares are not permitted. • Frequent flier award travel restriction: Blackout dates or special circumstances for frequent flyer mile users. • Refund and ticket change policies: This is the most important; not all flights are always 100% refundable, even in the worst case scenario. There are sometimes fees or procedures that you need to be aware of. If you feel insecure about booking your flight: Do not book it until you read the fine print! Make sure you have travel insurance as an extra security. Look out for fee’s: • Nobody likes to pay fees, but it doesn’t mean we should close our eyes and pretend they don’t exist. In modern day travels, fee's can range from luggage surcharges to the soda you purchase on the plane. Don’t assume anything about your purchase, pay attention to extra fee’s and be aware of what is mandatory versus what could be avoided. (Example: You may want to pay for your luggage fee online for a discounted rate as oppose to on the day of your flight.) Calculate all the fee's; they add up quickly and knowing their costs can impact your decision about your flight. 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 vegetarian menus, handicapped persons or infants and small children. Any unique situations must be handled by the airline and it might be best to contact them before booking your flight. Perhaps you need to sit in an emergency seat because you are six-feet tall and you’re unable to get an executive seat. Make a list of your travel preferences and if they are not listed online, contact someone immediately before booking. Double check Confirmation: Congratulations! You are almost ready to fly, but before you click buy now: Double check everything! Besides the previous four suggestions mentioned, finalize your personal information and assure everything is correct. Pay attention to the spelling, numbered addresses and contact information, your flight/travel itinerary and of course: the dates! Double check your itinerary as though you were back in grade school about to hand in your final exam. Once you’ve booked, make sure you have received 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.