Archive for November, 2012

7 Things To Consider When Booking Your Flight

Most people consider airfare an easy purchase (except perhaps on their wallet these days). Ironically, airfare can be one of the trickiest and most confusing travel buys, but often, this is only discovered when something goes amiss. Here are seven things to consider when choosing your flight.

1. Even within each class of service, there are different “classes” of seats. They are denoted by letters, such as Y, J, B, C. and they come with different price tags. So when you look at a flight and the price has jumped dramatically since the day before, this may well be the culprit. The lower class sold out, and you’re now paying for a more expensive class.

2. You can only upgrade with loyalty/flyer miles if in certain seat classes. So if you want to do so, you need to know – and let your travel planner know – ahead of time, so we can determine which class of seat on that flight will allow you do that (hint: it’s often the more expensive ones). The airline needs to be consulted directly each time, in case the rules have changed, which as you may have figured with air travel, happens rather frequently. There’s no guarantee you can upgrade even if in the “right” class, but if you don’t choose your fare accordingly, you’ll have no chance at all.

3. Unless you book a flexible fare (always more expensive), once your tickets is purchased, you generally cannot change it or cancel it without a stiff penalty. There are airlines that avoid this rule, such as Southwest, but for the most part, be sure it’s the flight you want or you’ll pay handsomely. The penalties are generally around $150 plus the any increase in price for domestic flights, and $250 plus any increase in cost for international flights, per person.

4. A direct flight is technically a flight that has a stop, but you don’t change planes (perhaps a fuel stop or to pick up other passengers in route). A non-stop, is, as it sounds, actually a flight that doesn’t stop between your point of take off and your point of landing. Direct flights are rare, especially domestically, but if a flight is indicated as “direct”, confirm whether it has a stop of any sorts.

5. In the US, you must go through customs and immigration upon your first entry back into the country, as opposed to your final destination. Therefore, if you have a connecting flight upon returning to the US, make sure that you give yourself enough time to grab your luggage, go through customs/immigration, and get to your next gate for boarding.

6. Some cities in close proximity are now combining flight/train tickets into a “connection”. For instance, if your Philadelphia-bound flight has a connection in Newark, NJ (considered a NYC international airport, so a popular point of entry for international flights), you may actually be landing in Newark and then taking the train from the station within the airport down to Philadelphia.

7. Similar to the above point, some cities with multiple airports will have you landing in one airport, and your connecting flight taking off from an airport across town. I’ve seen this between London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, as well as New York’s La Guardia and JFK airports, as two examples. Carefully inspect the airport codes before purchasing the ticket. While there should be some “warning” on the flight listing, you never know!