Thursday, February 17, 2011

Booking Your Flight

There can be something wonderful about planning a vacation. So if you are planning to take a trip here are some tips to get you through the planning and booking phases.

Airfare

If there were ever any rules for booking airfare, they are now gone. Airfares change constantly, even by the minute. It can be very frustrating trying to get the best rate, but these tips can help you pay less.

1. Book early. The sooner you can decide the travel dates for your vacation the better.Don’t wait too long or you might find yourself having to make alternate plans. Book your travel as far in advance as possible. That way, there are many options in terms of flight availability and fares. If you think you will get great deals at the last minute, such as right before you want to travel, think again. Airlines tend to drastically increase rates within 14 days of departure.

FareCompare.com, an airline ticket comparison shopping website, recommends Tuesday afternoons after 3 pm Eastern Time as the best time to start shopping for fares. This is because airlines start competing for the lowest fares of the week on Tuesday mornings with the best window for purchasing from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon.

2. Avoid peak seasons if you can. Keep in mind the holidays are among the busiest travel days of the year With many airlines decreasing the number of flights, there are only a limited number of seats available.If you're heading to a popular destination, there is a good chance that others are doing the same. Plan ahead.

3. Be flexible. If you find fares are high for certain travel days then check fares for a day or two earlier or later. If you are able to be flexible on the days you actually travel, you could save yourself some money—money that you could use at your vacation destination.

4. Use fare tracker alerts. If you have a particular travel destination in mind, you can often set up various fare tracker alerts through travel websites if you are booking airfare yourself. Then book when the fare drops. Don’t forget to check your email or the website often though since fares can quickly jump back up.

5. Fly on less popular days, such as a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. These days typically offer lower fares.

6. Choose a less popular flight time, such as early in the morning, around dinnertime, or overnight. These flights may have more seats available and sometimes have cheaper fares.

7. Don’t forget about the extra costs associated with flying. These include baggage fees, costs for snacks or meals while flying, fees for particular seat assignments, and parking fees. Fees and extra costs can add up, so when you are looking for rates that will fit within your budget, keep this in mind. Since airlines often change or add new fees, you may want to double-check these fees with the airline before you fly so there are no unexpected surprises.

8. Book through a travel agent. Travel agents can help you find the cheapest airfare possible. This can save a lot on the hassle of booking a flight, especially during peak travel times, like holidays. In addition, booking all of your travel and lodgings through one location can simplify things.

9. Plan ahead in case of inclement weather, a travel delay, or emergency. It seems inevitable that some airports in the U.S. will have inclement weather affecting flights. Keep in mind that this could affect your own travel. That plane that was coming from New York to your destination for its next leg of travel might not make it to you if it is grounded. Check the status of a flight before arriving at the airport. Many airlines offer tools to check online for the status of your flight, as well as phone numbers to call beforehand.

Take all necessary phone numbers related with your booking with you in case you need to fix an issue related to a cancellation or delay. Keep these documents in your carry-on luggage just in case you need them. When an entire plane-load of passengers finds themselves without a way to get to their destination, then it can sometimes be faster to call your travel agent or the airline for help rather than stand in the inevitable long lines at the airport.

10. In addition to knowing what to do in case of a cancellation, opting for trip insurance can add some peace of mind. Some trip insurance plans offer a Cancel for Any Reason and Travel Protection Plan that includes reimbursement of travel expenses and limited coverage for medical expenses, lost or stolen baggage, trip interruption due to sickness or death of you or an immediate family member, trip delay and baggage delay.

Book Your Next Flight Now!