This 'golden' digital age exposes consumers to a plethora of articles and commentary, which 'offer' advices on how to get the best from booking an airline ticket or how to get that low price for your journey. Some of those consumer advices and simple Internet searches will provide a mind-boggling return of search results, backed by the gloss of dynamic websites; it is little wonder that consumers become confused or make fundamental errors when booking airline tickets. In my experience, I have found that consumers are often attracted by the 'precious' and have lived to regret their choices all for the want of thinking about how they buy products online. When I make my own personal travel arrangements, I will choose between package deals or when it suits my schedule, I will put together my own travel bundle. If you choose to tailor your own travel arrangements, you need to become a savvy consumer and understand the subtleties that can be found in your air ticket or indeed any other travel product. My top tips will hopefully help you to navigate how to book a best price airline ticket and start you on the road to being a smart consumer:
Go to your destination airport site: If you carry out a general Google search, you may find that your to/from search will produce sponsored adverts directing you to a limited choice of airlines and tickets. I always check my destination airport website and find out which airlines fly from the UK to my destination airport. I make a note of those airlines and begin my search!
Go direct to the airline: Once I have my list of airlines, I then search each website and check the flight I want to take and carefully examine and note the costs and any extras. Each time I visit any travel website, I always clear the cookies off my browsing history - these cookies remember who you are and what you searched for. By clearing the cookies, you are effectively presenting yourself as a new customer and you will usually find that you are offered a 'new' or similar lower price rather than a creeping returning visitor price!
Visit 2 or 3 airline comparison websites: I repeat the same exercise as I did for the airlines. It is important not to be attracted by a 'low price'. You need to make sure that when you visit these websites that you understand what you are getting for your money - what are the extras - what are the limitations on the tickets?
Compare & contrast: Once you have gathered all the information on your intended ticket and prices, compare them against each other and in particular make sure that they are offering real-time prices and that the prices are not 'indicative' of what you might get your ticket for!
Terms and Conditions: Before you submit your details for payment, always check those important T's & C's; don't be tempted to simply tick the box! Make sure you understand the difference between an agents ticket and one that you book directly with the airline; the former can sometimes limit your options if you need to change the ticket and will often reveal extra costs. In particular, whatever website you use, understand your rights if you have to make changes and what charges may apply or indeed how they will look after you if their schedule goes awry!
Register for deals: If you are planning a trip for sometime in the future, carry out the same process as I have detailed above and register with an airline or online site for potential offers. Compare & contrast those offers by researching those same sites as if you were a 'new' visitor - don't just simply accept that this 'special' deal is the best. Opt for regular updates and check to see if they will accept loyalty card points in payment for flights, making sure that you understand the taxes you will have to pay if you use those points!
When you book an airline ticket, make sure that you organise that all important travel insurance and that it covers airline/supplier failure. Being a savvy consumer means that you have to invest some of your time to achieve your goal of best price or quality. I can assure you, once you get into the habit of taking these steps, they will become second nature; you work hard for your money, don't be in a rush to give it away!