How to avoid costly mistakes booking cheap flights

Reality check, sometimes booking cheap flights will end up costing you more.

Let us explain. When you book a flight you need to look at the whole picture.

 If not, you may be saving money in one place to spend a lot more in another.

And why is it that it has become a sport to pay as little as possible for a flight? Sure, you should 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.

And truth to be told, really cheap flights often end up costing more than you think.

You should focus on creating value.

You want to get a lot for what you are prepared and able to spend.

And only you know what you are prepared to spend and what you actually want from your budget

Read on for 6 examples on how that cheap flight could end up costing you more

After reading the examples below you will understand what we mean when we say that travelling should be about experiencing other countries and cultures – not saving money.

And hopefully, when booking cheap flights in the future you will be able to avoid costly mistakes.

Still confused? Here are some examples.

1. The really cheap flight that costs extra upon arrival

So you find that flight that costs you USD 100 less.

You book it and all is well.

But then you realise that the flight arrives at 3.50 am. 

Now you will need to book one extra hotel night or be prepared to wander the streets until check-in time at your hotel. 

And of course, the same logic applies with flights leaving ou are willing to spend the night before at the airport.

2. The Unicorn Airline offering 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 that 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 major schedule change or flight cancellation and the next available scheduled flight with the airline  is in one week?

If you are planning a family trip you should know the answer to this question.

3. Combining airlines that do not cooperate

At times there are great prices to be had when combining airlines that do not cooperate or work together.

But this type of trip exposes you to risks when there are delays, time table changes or even flight cancellations.

With separate bookings you, the traveller, could find yourself having to book a new flights at your own expense.

4. Booking low prices where all is “extra”

Great prices can sometimes be explained by the simple fact that all we got was a seat. And that can be great if that is what we want.

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

And these 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 places like New York, Moscow or Tokyo can cost you a few dollars.

And who can survive without Wi-Fi!?

5. Keep an eye on transportation to and from airport

Is public transportation or airport shuttles available and will it get you there on time? Especially if you have a really early or late flight departure.

If not, you may have to drive and park at the airport and costs will add up or even 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 for example 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.

Summary, booking cheap flights can get expensive when we only focus on price.

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 offers of service.

Mission accomplished.

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

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

As an 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 as well as emergency support.

And this is also the reason why you should always make sure that service is included or added to your bookings.

After all, if all you want is to save money — face it, it is even cheaper to stay at home.

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..