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5 big mistakes to avoid when booking flights pin image

Booking flights online can be a confusing and stressful process for even the savviest of travelers. Especially when you have to track multiple airlines, look out for special deals, check different websites for availability and more.

There are quite a few common mistakes to avoid when booking flights online. And those same pitfalls could cost you big time if you’re not careful!

If you’re ready to book your next flight, keep reading to learn what mistakes to avoid when booking flights – so you can save money every time you book a trip!

Tips for Booking flights

  • Be flexible with dates and destination
  • Be aware of baggage and other fees
  • Jump on flight deals when you find them
  • Book a direct flight when possible
  • Don’t always book roundtrip flights
  • Book early morning flights

Do you value price over convenience? Is time a big factor for this trip?

If you’re not sure, take some time to think about it before going on the hunt for flights. One of the other biggest mistakes to avoid when booking flights is not knowing what you want.

Knowing what you value most and your preferences will save you a lot of time and headache down the line. To help you a long the way, I’ve compiled 5 big mistakes to avoid when booking flights.

Having the right information can help you get the best deal on your flight and have a hassle-free journey.

Not thinking about baggage fees

When booking a flight, it’s important to keep in mind all of the associated costs.

This includes baggage fees, which can add up quickly if you’re not careful. So, be sure to factor this in when calculating the total cost of your flight.

Today, many airlines have basic economy fares that do not include a carry on (Jetblue, Spirit, United). Read the fine print! A flight may look cheap, but when you factor in bringing a carry on (or even a personal item) it’s not as cheap as you thought.

Personally, I don’t ever check a bag. I’ve had plenty of bad experiences, but if you’re one of those travelers that must check a bag for every trip, here’s some other things to consider when booking flights.

How much does the airline charge for checked bags?

In addition to charging for carry on bags on basic economy fares, most airlines also charge a fee for checked bags.

It can cost anywhere between $20 to $100 for just one checked bag. So, if you’re planning to check more than one bag, do your research and plan accordingly.

How much does your bag weigh?

Many airlines have weight limits for checked bags, and if your bag exceeds the limit, you’ll likely have to pay an excess baggage fee. So, be sure to pack light and avoid bringing any unnecessary items with you.

If baggage fees are starting to bum you out, don’t fret! There are ways to get around annoying baggage fees when booking flights.

Get an airline co-branded credit card

Airline co-branded credit cards can give you a leg up on extra fees associated with booking flights.

For instance, the JetBlue Plus card includes the first checked bag free for you and 3 companions on the same reservation.

That’s savings not just for you, but your travel buddies too!

If you have an airline co-branded credit card you’ll also have access to other perks, discounts, plus you’ll earn rewards points towards your next flight!

So, if you tend to fly the same airline more frequently than others, applying for an airline co-branded credit card may be more than worth it before you start planning your next trip.

Fly Southwest and get 2 checked bags free

Southwest airlines also has a co-branded credit card, but you won’t need it to get 2 checked bags for free.

One of my favorite perks about Southwest is the free checked bags. I still don’t like to check bags, but I love knowing the option is there in case I need it.

Bottom line, there can be hidden fees to consider when booking a flight. It’s important that you anticipate these fees and take them into consideration before booking your airfare.

Also, check out my post for tips on packing a carry-on for a week or more.

It will change your life, but first finish reading this post!

Thinking that there’s a “cheapest day to book flights”

People are always asking about the cheapest day to book flights. I’ve even seen several blog posts saying that these days are Tuesdays or Thursdays.

It’s simply not true.

Scott’s Cheap flights has an article on the cheapest day to buy flights and I love this quote – “the cheapest day to buy flights is the day you find a great flight deal.

As I mention in my post about saving money for your next vacation – airfares change daily, hourly, and sometimes even minute-by-minute. There’s no magic day to purchase that will have flights all of a sudden cheaper. However, the day you choose to fly may be a better factor when looking for cheap flights. According to an article from CNBC, Mondays Tuesdays or Wednesdays may be the cheapest days to fly.

If you’re on the hunt for a cheap flight, then you need to do the research and set flight alerts. Be flexible with your dates and destination, this is how you find the deals! If you see what you think may be a good deal, jump on it! Nowadays, most airlines will let you cancel at no penalty within 24 hours. Others will even give you a credit if you cancel at a later date without a fee.

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Not considering a direct or non stop flight because it’s more expensive

If you’re traveling to a destination that is across the world, chances are that you need to make a connection.

However, you should always try to for the least amount of connections as possible. My rule is no more than 1 connection for a domestic flight or 2 for an international (depending on the destination of course).

I always book a direct flight when possible even if it’s a little more expensive. If it’s way out of your budget to book the direct flight, consider how much of your time it would cost if you missed a connection.

In some situations, it could significantly eat into your time at your destination. If you have checked bags, it may also cause you to lose your luggage and not get it back for a couple of days. Or worse, you may not get your luggage back until you get home from your trip.

If you do have a connecting flight, try to give yourself at least an hour (try for 2 hours) in between flights. This way if your first flight is delayed, you have some wiggle room before your connecting flight.

If you’re flying internationally and have connecting flights in different countries, you may need to go through customs even for a connecting flight.

This can take up a lot of time if you’re flight is running late and may cause you to miss your connection. Talk about a mess!

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Always booking roundtrip flights

One thing that I’ve heard people say is that they didn’t realize that it’s not necessary to fly roundtrip with the same airline. It used to be that it was always more expensive to book separate one-way flights than it was to book roundtrip.

However, with airlines like Jetblue and Southwest each leg has their own price. Meaning, it’s the same price for each leg whether you book them together or separately. I’ve had a lot of luck searching for one way flights. It’s like mixing and matching flights!

One way flights are more flexible.

In some instances, I have been able to get better flight times and pricing when I book on two separate airlines.

For example: Let’s say that the cheapest ticket I can find is a round-trip ticket on Jetblue departing at 7am, but the returning flight departs at 7pm. I wanted an earlier return and was able to find a returning flight on Southwest departing at 11am instead of 7pm.

By booking 2 one-way tickets I was able to get the flexibility I needed for a comparable price (in many cases).

Plus, by booking my returning flight on Southwest I’m able to check 2 bags for free! I love being able to check bags on the return flight because I usually only bring a carry-on when I travel.

Not booking an early morning flight

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and get your vacation started on the right foot, booking an early morning flight is the way to go.

These flights are also the least likely to get delayed or cancelled because nothing has really happened yet.

There’s less flights in the morning which means less of a chance for something to go wrong. Flight cancellations or delays tend to affect late afternoon or evening flights.

I am NOT a morning person, but I will get up at whatever time I need to get the first flight of the day. I also love getting to my destination early and having time to settle in. I’ll go straight to my hotel and if my room isn’t ready, I’ll leave my luggage and explore!

It’s definitely less stressful and puts me in a great mood. 

Plus, early morning flights are typically cheaper than those later in the day. So save yourself some money and stress by booking an early morning flight the next time you travel.

Ready to Fly?

Whether you’re booking flights online for work or for fun (I hope it’s for fun!), figure out what works best for you and let that guide you through the process. Don’t let these mistakes to avoid when booking flights, stop you!

When you’re ready to start your search, try using a flight search engine like Google Flights, Kayak or Skyscanner (to name a few). Also, check out my post about booking flights direct vs. OTAs.

These sites search most airlines and will help you find the best flight for your preferences. You can even set alerts!

At the end of the day, however, you choose to get to your destination does not matter as much as actually going!

Happy Traveling!

Want to Travel More for Less?

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