We are so lucky to be able to use the internet to book our flight online. It’s very straight forward but sometimes there are a few pointers that you need to be made aware of. Once we gather the basics to simply book a flight online you might get addicted and be doing it as often as you can. As a previous travel agent, I always recommend people lookout for a few signs when booking their flights online and further in this post, you will see what they are. My favourite site to look up flights on is Skyscanner. You can also use google flights but for this example, I am going to use Skyscanner.
With an extremely easy address. You can either put Skyscanner into google search button or you can type the URL: https://www.skyscanner.net/ in or you can follow this link. Below is the home page. Its got option of Flights, Hotels and car hire. I am not paid by Skyscanner to write this post but I am an advocate for how easy it is.
All countries have more than one airport and some cities have more than one airport. You need to make sure you know which airport you are going to. If the airport you are travelling to is not important, make sure you tell whoever is picking you up, what airport you are arriving in. Let’s go through an example together so its easier to understand.
I am going to choose the destination, New York. Its fashion week and I need to go. I am 182 cm ( 6ft ) tall so flying is incredibly uncomfortable so the shorter the flight the better.
My first step is to google New York Airports.
There are 2 international airports that I might fly into. If I am flying with a local airline in America, I might have to use one of the smaller domestic airports. Okay perfect, now that I see my options, they are also all fairly close so it won’t be a problem to catch a cab from any of the airports.
Now in Skyscanner, I can type in from Cape town to New York and I am happy to pull up any airport.
This is quite important as if you specify the airport you could be missing out on some really cheap flights as you are specifying the selection. I want to keep my options open and get the cheapest but shortest flight to New York.
Skyscanner has all the airport codes in so you can always search it on Skyscanner instead of google maps. I like to use google maps so I can see the proximity to the city and maybe even my hotel.
Now that we know where we are going we can fill out the other details. We will travel in March next year and of course, Daniel is coming with so I change that to 2 travellers. The amount of travellers is probably the most important thing to put in your search as it shows availability. Which is quite obvious but if you see an amazing rate for 1 person and you tell all your friends… there might not be available for the other lucky 10 that get to be your friends. Specify the number of people! I would also recommend during this crazy pandemic to choose flight tickets that are flexible. This is a great search option for Skyscanner as you are getting flights with fewer rules and restrictions but you are actually paying a bit more.
If your flight is flexible then you pay less to move it around. When you choose a cheaper flight but more expensive travel insurance this doesn’t particularly make a difference. Your flight is restricted you might have to spend even more buying a whole new flight ticket. If you aren’t sure about your travel, go for a flexible ticket. Even if you are sure about your travel, still go for a flexible ticket as things always happen unexpectedly!
Okay, now we have gotten past the nasty insurance conversation and are ready to book our flights.
Skyscanner gives this wonderful option of reminding you about the schedule for direct flights.
Uh… YES PLEASE! As a frequent traveller, direct flights are everything. If a cheaper flight going via some hub is available, Skyscanner will still show me! All these questions are basically asking you what your preferences are but they still show you the cheapest and all the different dates that are better to fly.
In this case, I would be a fool not to change my dates to flying direct. A Monday is a great day because not that many people fly Mondays so will be great to fly in a fairly empty plane. Flying back on a Wednesday is also great as I can then get a long weekend arriving on Thursday to recover from the jet lag. You need to keep in mind these days. Flying on Thursday and Fridays are usually very busy, I would like to avoid.
Okay so now my selection comes up!
A few things to look out for. 1st the airline you are flying with. Then the airport you are flying to.
If we look at the first block, the airline is United Airlines and its flying into airport EWR which is Newark International airport and the ticket is flexible. It really grinds my gears when people can’t remember what airline they are flying with as that’s where all the millions of dollars and the people’s time and effort go into, representing the brand. The first option is the best option because we are only flying 15 hours and 55 minutes.
The second option is more expensive but a different airline. My guess with the flight that cost R14 687 is that it’s an airline partnership with United Airlines and they are selling the same seat just with different rates. If we think about it logically, its the same aircraft!
Moving on to the third option, we are looking at flights with South African airways. There is a stop in Johannesburg which I am presuming is about 3 hours. If you go with this option you will be saving R726 per person but you will have lost time, had to go through the airport, have the chance of losing your luggage and even more time. Don’t be daft – do direct! Only positive with this cheaper flight is you will be travelling to JFK International Airport which is more well known so you will probably have more crowds to get through. Great choice!
I went for the obvious choice, direct, good airline and not so popular airport so I have an easy and convenient journey.
Now you need to examine the details and make sure you know exactly what you are paying for. Not sure if most people know but the +1 next to the time that it arrives in Newark meaning technical stop. This technical stop means the airline is going to stop somewhere on the route to refuel the aircraft. I like to tell people this as sometimes they think the flight is stopping for issues with the plane or some other poppycock that people make up in their mind and then complain to the airline later. This is necessary and non-negotiable. The flight is stopping for your safety.
Moving on to the other information to triple check.
If you scroll down from your flight details you will see a few extra inclusions or notes that will help you prepare for your flight. In this case, because of COVID-19, you may be nervous with all the regulations, you can see however that the airline has made provisions and what they are.
Now don’t stop there… The most important thing with booking your flight online is checking the rules of the flight.
These rules are important when you want to change your ticket, bring extra baggage or even cancel your ticket. In this case, they have highlighted the airline’s fee’s which I would recommend you read and also Terms and conditions for flying with children. As much as I feel like a child, my birthdate does not show it so this doesn’t apply to us. If you are travelling with children, please read all these rules it’s very annoying when you get to the airport and things come up that you aren’t prepared for and the little ones feel your frustration.
Have a nice holiday, prepare yourself!
Now you have checked your dates, times, you are aware of your rules and you also are ready to make payment. Now Skyscanner is similar to hippo but for flights, it just helps you find the options and then takes you to another site that helps you book.
I would always recommend booking with a provider that has 3 or more stars.
In this case, I want to try lol.travel as I see they are a new company. Maybe they just need that extra support.
I took a look at lol.travel’s website and they are registered with IATA. This makes me feel better, not a scam so I will continue my booking through them. At this stage, keep an eye on the rate. My flights are supposed to come out ar R27 617 in total. Now click on select and head on through to their site.
lol.travel, not too sure about the name but maybe its a boomer thinking its lots of love travel, anyway!
These rates are in USD so your bank account may charge you a service fee for the rate of exchange or just not be the same as the rate you signed up for.
I would recommend cross-checking and also letting your bank know you are doing an international payment.
The site is offering you the rate between Economy and Business.
This is actually a really great comparison tactic. As you can see, the rate is more than double and as much as I’d love to fly business, I actually can’t afford it. A few other things to keep in mind here. You have 2 checked bags included in your rate. Hand luggage is included in your rate. You don’t, however, have a refund option included.
Make sure you clarify this with your insurance so if you need to cancel you can get your money from somewhere. Now we are happy with our flight rate and everything it includes, let’s move on and chose the basic package.
Now the booking details.
Your name is really important. If your name on your passport is slightly different by one letter, you cannot get on a plane.
There are a few airlines that need your middle name but I would recommend putting your middle name in all your flights you book unless its more than 20 characters then don’t put in your middle name. Another important detail is the date of birth, they cross-check it with your passport so make sure you are paying attention when you are putting these details in.
Now the airlines have been very strict on contact details.
If your flight is delayed, cancelled or something happens on the journey it is so important to put in contact details. I would make sure to fill in the correct details for yourself so you are able to get all the updates. With regards to nationality, if you have 2 passports use the one that you won’t need a visa with and then fill in everything according to that passport.
Now before you continue, make sure the information is correct!
This is so important especially due to the fact that if your name is wrong you have to either be on hold with the airline for hours to change it and even possibly have to pay even more to change your name. Even your title has to be correct.
Again we are looking at insurance. If you compare these rates with your own personal insurance company then make a decision from there. I would recommend going fully comprehensive. Daniel is also not so keen on travel insurance but I won’t travel without it. You never know what could happen and at least you are covered. It also keeps me calm in moments of adrenalin because I technically have the insurance as my back up plan.
All online flight platforms try and up-sell packages, pretty normal considering it is a business. I would look at these. If you have the time to do your online check-in then ignore this. I have highlighted a flexible ticket which I am not sure why that would bring that up when we have already established that the ticket is a Flexi-ticket. Just like booking with a travel agent, there are service fees. If you go through lol.travel to book your ticket and you need to make changes then you will have to pay their services fee’s on top of the airline’s service fees. My understanding of this flexible ticket add on is you pay their discounted services fee’s upfront.
This is a great deal!
If you go through all the options, I would recommend the premium assistance below. You can call the company to assist you with your questions and you get a discount off your next booking! Just keep in mind they are based in the states… so you will be paying the USA calling rates.
Now you have selected the correct information and you have triple check all the names, times and dates then you proceed to payment. With payment, you need to make sure that your credit card you use will be around when you travel as sometimes airlines ask for proof that you bought it. Very unlikely but that is just another tip to keep in mind.
Then you look out in your emails for your flight ticket. You will get a 5 digit code that you will use for online check-in and you will also get a ticket number with 13 digits. Check these 2 things as soon as you get your ticket to make sure you weren’t scammed and you bought a flight ticket!
If all this information is too much to follow, then call your local travel agent. They do still exist and they are trained with all these security measures from the start.