6 Flight Ticket Booking Tips no travel website tells you

In this post I have listed 6 tips that can come very handy during flight ticket booking. But most travel companies, airline websites or OTAs with commercial interests won't tell you these, as their ultimate motive is to make you spend more money, not really to tell you the loopholes or help you optimize your spending.

1. Book for yourself, let your friends book on their own.
Generally when we plan a trip, we check with our friends, relatives to check if they also would like to join. Many will even say Yes, without a 100% commitment. You might offer to book for them and collect money later. This is a bad practice. I suggest book for you and your immediate family or those who are fully confident will join. Let others book their own tickets separately. Why? read on

Risk of booking a large group in one PNR
-Partial modifications are not allowed- if say 2 out of 6 people wish to travel a day earlier or later, there's no way to support that. Modifications should be done to whole group. If the PNRs are separate, each PNR can be modified on its own.
-No discount for large bookings. Airlines do not usually give any discount because you're booking multiple seats. Pricing is per seat, convenience fee is per seat, there's no savings at all
- Risk of paying next slab.- If there's one seat left at 8000 and next seat is 10000, if you book two tickets, you will have to pay 20000, not 18000, as system applies new slab rates for both passengers. So if you have too many people in a PNR, you might be paying more. Always check for 1 passenger, then check for more.
-Plans change. Sometimes friends back off or worst, will be a no show last minute- unless they are prompt enough to pay, you might end up losing some money in cancellation fee etc. It is less headache if you make everyone handle their own tickets.

Benefits of booking separate PNRs
- Better flexibility
- Possibly better rates
- Less financial risk- no need to followup with them for money etc

2. Hold PNR
Some airlines offer what is known as a "Hold PNR". That is, the price you saw will be locked for you till next 24 or 48 hours. Highly useful when you've not made up your mind 100% or waiting for someone else to confirm etc. If your decision is a Go, then you pay and confirm the ticket, else let it go. If you don't use this option and book upfront, any change in decision will cost you a lot later.
Spicejet offers this, many airlines offer this but usually only if you call the helpline.. On the website there won't be such options. If you go till payment section and close the tab, some airlines track it and send you an SMS, offering you to an option to book the ticket at same price within next 24/48 hours.

3. Free Cancellation within 24 hours
Jet airways offers a no questions asked free cancellation within 24 hours of ticket booking. Use this option if you've done some mistakes or if your decision changes.

4. Use possible schedule changes to get full refund
If you cancel your own, sometimes you get almost nothing back, except few hundred rupees in taxes. Under normal conditions there'll be a cancellation fee (between 2-6k usually) and you will get the rest back. If you have the need to cancel but travel date is too far, then it may be better to hold on for some time. Here's why.

Airline schedules get modified often- due to various reasons. If you've booked a ticket well in advance and if the flight timings now change or get cancelled, you are entitled to use this as an excuse and seek full refund. You can claim the modified timings are not suitable for you. You will either get full refund on your credit card or get your ticket modified free of cost for an alternate date/flight.

5 Book additional services closer to travel date
Booking websites may be tempting you to buy all the additional services like baggage, meals, insurance upfront. But I suggest don't. Book these closer to travel date on need basis. Here's why.

  • While seat cost will change (mostly increase) over time closer to travel date, rates for additional services like check-in bag, meals, insurance etc doesn't increase over time. You can always add them later closer to travel date.
  • If you've booked 20 kgs bag to one of the two passenger and he/she can't travel, the baggage fee paid can't be transferred to second person. You will be asked to pay separately. Better off buy these closer to travel date as things firm up.
  • If you have to cancel your ticket, you're better off without these extra services already paid, since they are non-refundable.

6. Book on airline website instead of OTAs
Booking on 3rd party site may feel same priced as airline website, it is more convenient and hassle free if you book it directly on airline website. Reasons below
- In case of cancellation, travel websites deduct additional amount for their service, further reducing what you get in hand post cancellation
- In case of various things that can go wrong, both airline and OTA can keep tossing you around blaming each other
- OTAs or travel websites are constantly rolling out various marketing campaigns, offers to make people book through them. Cost of this has to be recovered from customers somehow. Airlines on the other hand just need to focus on what they do best-flying

Have any other tips in mind? 

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