Booking Air Travel
Jen Leo (Daily Deal Blogger, LA Times Travel Section) gives expert video advice on: What are the best ways to book air travel?; What are the different types of air travel websites?; What are some terms to be aware of when booking air travel? and more...
What are the best ways to book air travel?
There's a variety of different ways to book air travel, depending on your style of connecting with the agents. You can call an airline directly, such as United or Delta, and book your reservation over the phone. You can do it through the airline website. You can book an air travel trip through a travel agent. You can also use online travel providers such as Orbits, Travelocity, or even participate in an auction on Priceline.
What are the different types of air travel websites?
First of all, you want to get familiar with the online websites that you can book your travel on, and those vary depending on style. You can get an aggregator like Mobissimo.com or SideStep.com that search a whole bunch of different airline providers, or you can go straight to the source, go with American Airlines, United, Southwest, JetBlue, and book your air travel directly through them.
What are some terms to be aware of when booking air travel?
The first thing you should be aware of when booking air travel is "non-refundable." That means you don't get your money back once you've booked the ticket. Another thing to be aware of with air travel is "advance purchase." You might also want to look out for "e-ticket."
What does "advance purchase" mean?
Well, 'advanced purchase' is usually going to give you the best or cheaper fare. So if you book fourteen days in advance or twenty-one days in advance, you are going to get a better deal than if you booked within a week before your departure. This is advanced purchase.
What does "non-refundable" mean?
Non-refundable means you are not going to get your money back. That is usually the cheapest ticket out there, and it just means that if you want to make a change or if something happens and you can't go on the flight, the company is not going to give you your money back. That is what non-refundable means.
What is an "e-ticket"?
E-tickets are the most popular way of getting tickets these days. It means they are processed electronically, and it gets rid of the need for paper tickets. Paper tickets are becoming archaic, and some airline companies even charge you to have a paper ticket processed for you or sent to you. So, e-tickets are processed electronically. You can just show up at the airport, check in to a kiosk with your credit card or give them your driver's license at the check-in gate, and they're going to process you and know your ticket and flight right there.
What is a "boarding pass"?
A boarding pass is the official document that you get after you check in. It has the seat assignment, your destination, and it is the piece of paper that you show at security to make sure you get to the other side and on the gate. One of the best things about travel today is you can print your boarding pass at home before you even get to the airport. You can simply visit the airline's website, enter your flight information and print out your boarding pass right at your own desktop. This is really great for commuter flights or little short flights where you are not carrying any baggage.
What is the difference between a "non-stop" and a "direct" flight?
A "non-stop" flight is when you get from one destination to the other without stopping - without changing planes. A direct flight is different than a non-stop flight although it might sound like it's the exact same thing. With a direct flight, you can actually stop in an intermediate city, but not get off the plane and your flight number does not change. So you're going from Los Angeles to New York, but you might touch down in Denver and not get off the plane - it would still be a direct flight.
What is a "red-eye" flight?
A red-eye flight is the late night flight, or the early morning flight where you get off the plane, and you've got those red eyes because you've been up all night. Usually, the last flight of the day, maybe at eleven o'clock at night is the red eye flight, and you usually spend the night or sleep over on the plane, and get in really early in the morning, at like five or six a.m. Red eye flights are mostly associated with cross-country flights, or international flights.
What if I need to cancel or change air travel plans?
If you think there's a chance that you might want to cancel or change your reservations, pay attention to that when you book your ticket, and book yourself a Refundable Ticket, so that you can make that change without charge. If you buy a cheaper-fare ticket, the airline might charge you a price before crediting your account. If you want to change your air ticket, there's a good chance there's going to be a fee charged. Sometimes it can just be the difference in the flight, and other times it can be as low as 25 dollars to 100 dollars, domestically, but if you're changing or cancelling an international ticket, it could be 100 or 200 dollars.
What pitfalls should I look out for when making a reservation for air travel?
If you want to avoid pitfalls when you are booking air travel, make sure you lock down your ticket within the twenty four hour reservation time, because after that, the price could go up from what they quoted you the day before. lf you want to check the history of the flight you are on for prices, go to farecompare.com. They give a newsletter there all the time that tells you how to get better airline tickets, and they also provide you with a year's worth of history so that you can see how the air travel rates have changed over the year. If you want to project and see what the flight is going to cost in the future, check with farecast.com.
What are the differences between classes on an airline?
There's a big difference between coach class, business class and first class on an airline. In coach class, which we like to refer to as cattle class, you're just shoved in there. You don't get a lot of leg room in coach class. When somebody's reclining in the seat in front of you, you've got just about a few inches between yourself and the back of their seat. Of course, they don't even let you look into the business or first class sections. In first class, you're going to be greeted by champagne. You might get better food served on china. You're going to get all that leg room and the ability to recline, and almost sleep horizontally in first class. However, don't you think that first class doesn't come without a big price tag. First class is the most expensive way to travel on an airline.