Costly mistakes to avoid when booking cheap flights

Everyone loves a great deal when booking flights. But unfortunately, booking flights while only focusing on price can cost you more in the end.

When choosing an airline and booking a flight, you must look at the whole picture. Otherwise, you may be saving money in one place to spend a lot more in another.

Reflection: Why is it a sport to pay as little as possible for a flight? You should, of course, look for the lowest possible price but you must also keep the real cost in mind. Focus on value. Not solely on cost or price.

Be smart; booking the wrong flight can cost you more than you think.

Focus on creating value

You have saved long and hard for your vacation. And, understandably, you want to get a lot for your travel budget. And only you know what you want from your budget

This article gives six examples where a cheap flight could cost you more when you lose sight of the big picture. 

I have first-hand seen customers make these mistakes over and over. And they all had one thing in common. They needed to be at their destination on a specific day and time; some to board a cruise, others to watch a sport event.

And hopefully, you will avoid these costly mistakes when booking your flights in the future.

1. The cheap flight that costs extra upon arrival

Imagine you are searching for and comparing flight prices. You find that flight that costs you USD 100 less.

You book it, and all is well.

But then you realize that the flight arrives at 1.50 in the morning and you must book an extra hotel night.

The same logic applies to flights leaving very early in the morning – are you willing to spend the night before at the airport, or will you pay for an airport hotel, thus spending more money?

2. The Unicorn Airline offers one flight a week at great prices

It is probably an airline you have never flown with before. But you recognize the name. And looking for a flight to a popular destination during peak season, they are much cheaper. And there are seats available.

Now, this is not necessarily a problem in itself. 

But what do you do if there is a significant schedule change or flight cancellation and the next available scheduled flight with the airline is in one week?

Choosing an airline with multiple daily or at least weekly departures within their alliance will offer that extra layer of security.

3. Combining airlines that do not cooperate

You can sometimes get great prices when combining airlines that do not cooperate or work together.

But this trip exposes you to risks when there are delays, timetable changes, or even flight cancellations.

With separate bookings, you, the traveler, could find yourself booking a new flight at your own expense.

4. Booking low prices where everything is “extra”

The simple fact that we only booked a seat can sometimes explain a great price. And that is fine if it is all we need.

But often, we realize that we need check-in bags, seating, or meals – and now these options are all of a sudden at extra cost.

And these extra costs can add up.

The equivalent when booking accommodation would be that Wi-Fi or breakfast is extra. And believe me when I say that buying breakfast for a family of four in New York, Moscow, or Tokyo can cost you a few bucks.

5. Keep an eye on transportation to and from the airport

Is public transportation or airport shuttles available, and will they get you there on time? Especially if you have an early or late flight departure.

If not, you may have to drive and park at the airport or spend the night before at an airport hotel.

And as for transport to your hotel, contact the hotel beforehand and ask for advice and suggestions.

It is also good to remember that major cities like New York and London have several airports. And the cost and distance for transfers can vary substantially.

And finally, point-to-point low-cost carriers sometimes fly to smaller, more remote airports. Make sure you check the name and location of the airport. Simply knowing the name of the city is not enough.

6. Booking cheap flights and skimping on service

The ultimate price hunter knows how to get the cheapest possible flight. 

  • Go to your favorite price comparison website.
  • Search and select the cheapest option.
  • Select “No” to all addons, upsells, and service offers.

Mission accomplished.

Well, chances are that you have selected to book with an Online Travel Aggregator making a living from selling volumes for low prices with a minimal always-included customer service commitment.

And on top of it all, you selected the “No service” option.

As industry professionals, we only ask one thing of you. Acknowledge and own that you have opted to book with no service. 

This means that should problems come your way, you have declared that you:

  • intend to fix them yourself
  • accept that you have nobody to assist you
  • are happy to pay extra for post-sale service should you (after all) need assistance

We can assure you that this is not where you want to be.

When you leave for your trip, you should have phone numbers and email addresses for regular and emergency support.

And this is also why you should always ensure that service is included or added to your bookings.

Summary: Avoiding costly mistakes booking cheap flights

In summary, booking cheap flights can get expensive when you only focus on price.

There is a lot of money to be saved on booking cheaper flights when you travel. But do take the extra time to ensure you do not lose sight of the overall picture.

Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..

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