This blog post was updated on July 23, 2021.
A friend’s husband was in charge of booking the plane tickets for the couple for my wedding. Rather than checking a number of factors before clicking purchase, he merely selected the cheapest route with their dates and times and booked the flight. Around 28 hours after booking the flight, the couple realized they would be leaving at a cruel 6AM after the wedding night. With non-refundable tickets and past the 24-hour change window, there was little that they could do besides forking over a change fee greater than their ticket price. Before you click purchase on any flight, you need to check a number of factors to avoid unexpected costs added on to your airfare.
The Cancellation/Change Fee Policies: The cancellation and change fee polices can vary from airline to airline. If you tend to book the cheapest flights that you see, you might not be flying one set airline to know exactly what the change fees are or what the cancellation policies may be. In a world of changing schedules, it is always recommended to know what your airline will charge you to change a ticket or if you will be given a credit for a cancelation. Some airlines will give you 24 hours after you book your flight to make a change without a fee. To take advantage of this perk, immediately after booking, you should go over all the details and make certain that you don’t want to make any changes. Neglecting to go over the change fee and cancellation policies could end up being costly if you need to change or cancel a ticket.
Seat Assignment: When I booked my flight to Greece, it said that seat assignments would be assigned at the gate. Travelers shouldn’t take this as an answer. I called the airline instead to get a favorable seat assignment, rather than waiting until I arrive at the gate. If you wait on your seat assignment, you will most likely find yourself somewhere on the plane that you don’t want to be, such as the dreaded middle seat. Turning such a blind eye to your seat assignment can be costly toward your comfort on those long haul flights. When you book a flight, if you can select your seat assignment, do. If for whatever reason you can’t, call the airline and see if you can get a set place on board.
Baggage Fees Now and Then: Since the beginning of baggage fees, airlines have come up with various ways of collecting baggage fees. Over the years, the fees have not just transformed from one set price from airline to airline but rather a price when you book and a price when you get to the airport. If you don’t pay attention to baggage fees in the booking process, you just might wind up overpaying for your bags. Some airlines will charge you more at the airport to check your bag then they will when you book. Also that great airfare you found on one flight might not be so great when you factor in the baggage fees. Some airlines have better baggage prices than others. Like adding the Internet and parking charges onto the hotel room rate, you need to do the same with baggage fees for plane tickets.
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