When it comes to air travel you have to watch out for yourself. It’s no secret airlines will take advantage of you in any way they can to make a buck. Here are four things you NEED to know before you buy your next ticket.
- Basic Economy Fares – Buyer BEWARE. Know what you are purchasing when you buy the cheapest ticket. Unless you’re flying Southwest (Gotta love them for their hospitality, free bags and free re-booking) you are getting a middle seat at the back of the plane with no meals, no checked bags and likely no bags for the overhead bin. You are usually allowed one personal item to fit underneath the seat in front of you. And that’s all folks! Expect to be treated according to your pay grade.
- Luggage Restrictions – Know your weight and size restrictions for the airline you are flying. If you go over they WILL charge you. Especially on international flights. They may not get you leaving the country but they will most certainly get you coming home. They weigh your carry-on along with your checked bag when you check in at the counter. And from experience I will tell you that’s a $100+ fee. I suggest purchasing a hand held scale. I bring it with me when I travel international and weight my luggage before coming home when it’s loaded down with awesome souvenirs.
- Price Fluctuations – My favorite (can you sense the sarcasm in my tone). Airlines track your search history when you look for airfares online. The second time you search fares they will be higher! YAY! Clear your browsers before searching for tickets every time. When I sit down the first time to look at tickets, I usually purchase in the same sitting. I have even had a ticket go up $200 while I was looking because I searched for too long. Tickets purchased early in the morning around 5am get a slightly better rate (Have fun searching by yourself in the dark!). And of course traveling mid week versus weekends is slightly cheaper. Holidays and summer rates will soar, so be prepared. I use Momondo to search for the cheapest fight and best route then I go directly to the airline to purchase. Skyscanner is also a good search engine for flights. Use Hopper to track your flight and for advice on when to purchase.
- Layover Times – Tons of airlines offer tickets with a 1 hour layover on International flights. DON’T do this. You need at least 1:45 -2:00 in between flights when going international. If you book the ticket with the 1 hour layover you run the high risk of missing your next flight. Coming back to the US you will have to recheck your luggage and go through customs. This takes at least an hour. And don’t think you can get through Gatwick or Frankfurt in 1 hour. That’s a joke. Domestic flights should have a minimum layover of 1 hour. Any less and you risk not getting to your next plane. If you want to chance it make sure there are later flights going to your destination incase you miss, otherwise you’ll be stuck overnight.
Travel Pro Tip: Keep in mind that even if your flight is on time, unless you are in first class, it will take at least 15 mins to get off the plane. Boarding for your next flight will start at a minimum 30 mins before it takes off. That gives you 15mins to RUN to your next flight. Forget the bathroom or food.