How To Book Air Travel

Every method of booking airline air travel has its benefits and limitations. When you feel that travel bug biting, consider the following options for finding the right airline tickets.

  1. Using the internet to contact the airline's web site directly will give you a comprehensive picture of travel times and cost for that specific airline.
    • Using the site's date and time tools, enter your desired day and time of both departure and return, as well as the class of seating you want (first, business, or coach). Most ticket purchases are for round-trip tickets, but sometimes it can be cheaper to purchase two one-way tickets.
    • The airline search tool will display itineraries from which to choose, each with its own date and time for departure and return. A price range should also be displayed for each itinerary.
  2. Before visiting an airline-specific site, consider visiting consolidator web sites such as Orbitz.com or Expedia.com. These sites make it possible to compare trip times and prices with several major airlines. Also, consolidators purchase blocks of seats on different flights with assorted airlines so the choices could be different from the itineraries shown on the direct airline websites.
    • The consolidator sites usually charge a service fee in addition to taxes and fees applied to the ticket price. Fees range from $5 on Travelocity.com to $15 on Orbitz.com.
    • Each website will allow you to choose which airports you wish to use for departure and return.
    • You can explore how minor alterations can affect the price of tickets. For example, if you can be flexible, sometimes selecting a nearby airport (just not the one you originally had in mind) will bring a cheaper ticket.
  3. If you don't have the time or an internet connection, paying a trained travel/ticket agent can reduce stress. Just tell them when and where you intend to travel and they'll do everything for you and let you know your options. A travel agent will have at hand the information and knowledge you need to make your vacation as stress-free as possible.
    • They can tell you interesting facts about your destination, help you decide on a destination and give you ideas on what to see and do.
    • They will inform you of weather trends and what to pack.
    • They can help make car rental and hotel arrangements.
    • If you are traveling internationally, they can help you with currency or banking information, as well as what you need to stay healthy and safe.
    • Travel agents also are an option for organizing corporate travel or group travel. Several credit card companies have travel agents on staff to help coordinate personal, group, business and international travel.
  4. Most major airlines, such as Delta, United and US Air, have toll-free phone numbers to call and make reservations. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about air ticket prices. They will most likely have a website with information about baggage size and weight allowances, as well as carry-on luggage size restrictions.

Regardless of your chosen method, here are some general considerations when buying tickets.

  1. If you are purchasing coach class tickets, be aware that a fee is usually charged if you have to make changes to your itinerary.
  2. Ticket prices can change several times daily so keep a watch on prices. If your ticket price drops enough to cover more than the change fees, you can call for a credit on future flights. Be sure to read fine print to see exactly what you will be credited.
  3. Sign up for frequent flier miles at your airline. Eventually, you can earn enough to exchange for a free or partially free ticket or for other rewards.
  4. If your flight is relatively short and you have a small child, consider purchasing one adult ticket and holding your child on your lap for the flight's duration at no extra cost on most domestic flights. The age limit for "lap babies" at most airlines is up to two years old.
  5. If you have a seat preference such as window, aisle or near a restroom, just ask and you will be accommodated if possible. Some exit row seats have more leg room but there is an age requirement of 15 due to the responsibility of helping people exit and being able to perform during an emergency.Websites usually have a seat map of the plane for you to choose your seats before you purchase the tickets, ensuring that you will be seated with your family, friends or co-workers.

 

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