Not Searching on Multiple Sites
Fare prices can vary widely across travel search engines and airline sites. Avoid sticking to just one website when searching for flights. Cross-compare quotes on aggregators like Kayak and Google Flights as well as the airline sites themselves.
Expanding your search increases chances of finding the lowest available fare. Signing up for price alert services also helps you capitalize on sales and deals.
Focusing Only on the Cheapest Fare
Sorting flights solely by price often surfaces inconvenient options with long layovers or undesirable departure times. Factor in other parameters like duration, number of stops, airport reputation, and baggage fees.
Often a slightly higher base fare saves significantly on other costs and travel time. Review pricing breakdowns carefully to determine the best value.
Booking at the Last Minute
Airlines leverage predicable demand patterns to offer discounted fares further in advance. Generally, booking 6-8 weeks out secures the lowest rates.
Of course, sales sometimes offer last-minute deals too. But relying on finding those is risky and may result in paying hundreds more. Don’t count on eleventh-hour bargains coming through.
Not Accounting for Hidden Fees
The base ticket price never tells the full story. Watch for common add-on fees like baggage, seat selection, and food. Budget airlines in particular monetize extras that significantly drive up total costs.
Factor all potential fees into your total flight cost comparison. Paying a little more upfront for an airline with fewer fees can save overall. Read fare rules carefully.
Booking at Peak Times
Flight prices surge around major holidays, summer vacations, and other high-demand periods. If possible, book during shoulder seasons when prices dip.
Being flexible with your travel dates around peak times can slash costs. Even departing a day before or after a popular date makes a noticeable difference.
Not Considering Alternate Airports
Check pricing for all airports within driving distance of your origin and destination. Expanding your airport search often reveals major fare differences.
Saving a couple hundred dollars may warrant the slightly longer drive. Just ensure the time and gas costs still result in net savings.
Overlooking Direct Flights
The allure of a cheap fare on multi-stop itineraries is often misleading. The savings comes at the cost of added hassle, stress, and time.
Research prices for direct flight options. With the risks of delays and cancellations, direct flights are worth paying a premium where feasible. They also simplify logistics.
Carry-On Only to Avoid Fees
Packing exclusively light to avoid checked baggage fees seems clever. However, once onboard cramped spaces fill up quickly. You may end having to gate check your bag anyway.
Weigh whether it makes sense to pay bag fees upfront for the guarantee of overhead space and avoiding the indignity of gate checking. Overhead bin space sells out fast these days.
Not Pre-Selecting Seats
Don’t expect to get seats together if traveling as a group or family. And middle seats are highly likely when not pre-selecting. It’s worth spending a little extra to reserve ideal seats in advance.
At minimum choose aisles and windows as soon as allowed to avoid getting stuck between other passengers. Some airlines now charge for advance seat assignments.
Focusing Only on the Cheapest Airline
Ultra low-cost carriers provide base transportation. But nickel-and-diming, mediocre service, and strict policies make for unpleasant experiences.
Sometimes it’s prudent to spend a little more on a quality airline that offers perks like free seat changes, bags, cancellations, and better service
Avoiding common booking mistakes takes research but pays big dividends in saving money and sanity. Apply tips like comparing sites, calculating true costs, and checking nearby airports. Take time to make informed decisions for the optimal experience.