Often when we book travel, the cheapest fare automatically gets our business. But this can sometimes turn out to be more expensive in the long run. Or at the very least, a bigger hassle. Here are some things to consider before booking a flight that will help you save time and money.
How early it arrives/departs from your destination
One of the biggest mistakes people make in booking travel is not accounting for travel times. Saving $20 on a flight is not much use when you find yourself having to take an Uber that’s twice as expensive to the airport at 3 am because your flight is at 5 am. Similarly, arriving too late at your destination may make it more expensive or difficult for you to get into the city. When I went to San Francisco, I made the mistake of booking a flight that arrived right around the time the BART stopped running (at 11:50 pm, because San Francisco is a stupid stupid place). So I ended up having to take a $60 taxi.
How short the connection is
The last thing you want to do when you’re going on vacation is miss part of it. That’s why you have to be very careful with the length of your connection, particularly when it comes to large and notoriously congested airports. For instance, if you have 45 minutes to get you through London Heathrow, you might want to consider an alternative flight. Otherwise, you may get delays that require you to be rescheduled on a later flight, which could be in a couple of hours or the following day.
The overall length of the itinerary
In the same way you don’t want to be rushed through a nearly impossible connection time, you probably don’t want to spend two days each way getting anywhere. Your time off is precious and you want to spend most of it at your chosen destination. As a result, it’s sometimes worth it to pay a little extra to shave off 10 or 15 hours off airport and flying time.
Where the connection is
If you’re like me, you want to take advantage of every opportunity to see something new. This means taking advantage of long stopovers and turning them into a mini-trip before your real trip. Doing this is a great way to vet new places for future travels or to revisit a place you already love just to have lunch or check out a museum you missed the last time you were in town. So if the connecting city is somewhere you might want to see, you want to make sure the connection is long and convenient enough to do so.
How many connections there are
I don’t know about you, but I rather do almost anything including spend eight hours in an airport waiting for my connecting flight to than have three connections on each leg of an itinerary. With each connection, there is a chance you could get delayed and miss your outgoing flight. This is can create a major headache, particularly if you booked a “fare hack” ticket which involves multiple independent airlines. This means you might have to collect your baggage and recheck it at each destination. And if you miss any of the flights, you have to contend with whatever third party company you used to book the trip. No thank you.
The luggage allowances
Low cost airlines make their bread and butter by overcharging for things that come standard on a regular airline. This means seat assignments, meals, but most importantly, luggage. Some airlines won’t even let you take carry-on luggage for free. If you don’t realize this when you’re booking your flight, you might show up to the airport and face some hefty luggage fees. So make sure you know what you plan on taking and what’s allowed by the airline. It may still be cheaper to book the low-cost flight and the luggage in advance, but you should always compare. Unfortunately, this is a habit that has rubbed off on traditional airlines, so luggage allowance is always something to look out for.
Which airlines qualify you for rewards
If you know you fly to certain destinations or certain routes more often, you may benefit from joining an airline’s frequent flyer program. In instances where your regular airline has a slightly higher fare, it may still be worth it because it’ll pay off in miles that you can redeem for free flights or flight perks in the future, like upgrades.
That’s why there’s more to flying than just money. If you want the most stress-free travel experience, sometimes you have to consider other things when you book a flight.