5 Tips on Booking Your Flights Online (Part 1)
Read PART 2 for 5 more tips to book flights online!
1. Set the budget, destination and time to travel
To begin holiday planning, it is important to know how much you are willing to spend on the flights, or at least where and when you intend to go.
- This will narrow down your research to estimate the costs involved.
- It will also narrow down the list of airlines, including Low Cost Carriers (LCCs), that fly directly to the place, or with stopovers.
Fun Fact: Direct Flight?
Even if a flight is a direct flight, it can still have a stop to bring on more passengers and to offload some. For example, Scoot has a flight to Japan that also serves the Taipei route. So you have passengers flying to both Taipei and Japan on the same flight. Technically, the flight is still considered “direct” with a stop.
Then, how about a simple route like Singapore – Bangkok? It is called a non-stop direct flight.
2. Plan to book early. Get ready to book when a promotion is launched.
The art of booking super cheap air tickets is to get ready before any airline promotion is launched. This is important as promotional fares are usually limited in quantity.
How should you get ready?
- You and your travelling party should have decided on the destination and travel period.
- Get your leaves approved beforehand.
- Be notified on upcoming promotions – subscribe to your preferred airlines’ mailing list or follow them on social media.
- Be ready to book when the promotion is launched!
Are you getting the best deal?
- Nowadays, most airlines have cut off commission to travel agents. So, you should be getting the best deals from the airlines themselves.
- Do look out / google for the promotional code for LCCs which can shave off some flights cost.
Fun Fact: Why do air tickets’ prices fluctuate?
The reason is due to a mechanism that airlines employ to maximize their revenue. This complex mechanism is called Yield Management – a big word that you may wish to Google about. Essentially, it helps the Revenue Manager plan a certain number of seats to be sold at X price so that they can meet the minimum load capacity in order to operate at no loss. When that is met, they increase the price to be sold at Y price to make a profit. Of course, the increase is not just once. This is just a simple illustration.
3. Get the passport bio-data pages ready
Yes, the bio-data page is the most interesting page you can find on your passport, complete with your picture and vital information. This is extremely important when making flight reservations.
Get your name right!
Always enter your names as per your passports. Never mind the caps. Ensure that the name sequence is correctly input. Some Singaporeans may have both Chinese and English names on their passports; check the bio-data page to know which comes first and input the details exactly as such.
This is extremely important especially for travel to Australia and the United States where online travel authorisations have to be obtained prior to travel for Singapore passport holders.
Hanyu Pinyin Name? One name? Unsure?
If you are unsure about your name sequence, especially if you have both an English and a Chinese Pinyin name in bracket, e.g. Ryan Lim Jie En, zoom down to the bar code. It should probably read as LIM>>RYAN>JIE>EN. The surname should come first followed by two arrows and your English and Chinese names, depending on how your parents registered your name
Some passports may only have one name, e.g. Wiliwala. This is quite common for Indonesia passport holders. In this case, input Wiliwala as both the First Name and the Last Name. Do not simply input any letter to fill in the blank just because both the First and Last Names are required fields. Just use the one name to input both fields. It will be fine.
Common mistakes on names
Here are some common mistakes you should avoid:
- Incomplete names
- Input of known names instead of names as per passports
- Characters not belonging to the passport name being input
- Incorrect sequence of names
What’s the big deal?
Two important reasons to book your names as per your passports are:
- To avoid the hassle of completing retroactive mileage claim for your frequent flyer account. Trust me, it is burdensome and it is much easier to just book correctly as per the passports.
- For visas or online travel authorisations purpose, the tickets must match the visas or travel authorisations in order to be allowed boarding.
4. Compare prices on search engines
- Be sure to set the prices to SGD (or your local currency) to get a good comparison.
- Do look out for hidden costs. Have the prices included all taxes and fees?
- Usually, the LCCs will charge a credit card payment fee. You may look for alternative payment methods. For example, Tigerair accepts payment via AXS as well. Save the SGD 18.00 payment fee and spend it elsewhere!
5. Baggage allowance for LCCs/USA domestic flights
When booking on LCCs and domestic flights in the USA, do check out the baggage allowance included.
Of course, some LCCs will default the selection to automatically include baggage and you may prefer to remove them to avoid extra fees.
In the States, the economy class on domestic flights usually do not include any baggage allowance at all. The cost of purchasing a checked bag can range from USD 15.00 to USD 60.00 per piece. As such,
- You may wish to look out for airlines that offer free checked bags.
- Include the domestic flights into your international air ticket. Often, your international ticket may have the capacity to include domestic flights in the States with minimal add-on costs.
Hope the tips are useful to you! Read PART 2 for 5 more tips to book flights online.
How has your flight booking experience been? Please comment to share your tips with us. I’ll share more in my next post! ;)
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