A Booking Expert's Travel TipsWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of CheapOair
Booking your and/or your guests' travel can be one of the toughest parts about planning a destination wedding. With a litlte bit of research and organization, however, you can make the most of airline sales and travel perks. To help you along your way to booking and travel success, we've asked Tom Spagnola, a travel expert with CheapOair.com, to share his top tips and insights:
1. Arrive at the airport two hours ahead of your departure time to allow time to find your departure gate (even for domestic travel!), navigate through the crowds, and prepare for last minute gate changes.
2. When searching and booking flights, use comparative websites like CheapOair.com, to compare a wide variety of flight options and airfare prices.
3. When booking a national or international flight, consider flying into and/or out of secondary airports. Flying into airports near your destination, instead of the airports in major cities, can also make a substantial price difference. Also, book domestic flights at least 30 or more days in advance and international flights at least 60 days in advance.
4. Look into travel insurance and know what each travel insurance company has in its policies in case you need to file a claim. Here are the coverages most likely to be used with respect to bad weather: (Note that each policy covers you differently):
- Missed Connection – provides reimbursement for the additional costs to “catch up” to a cruise or tour if the cause of delay is a carrier-caused delay or documented weather condition
- Trip Delay – generally from bad weather or carrier-caused delays. Long delays of more than 50% of the length of your trip can turn onto a trip cancellation
- Trip Cancellation – you have to cancel your trip. Some plans, but not all, require a 24-hour shutdown of common carrier services; than 15 days following the effective date of coverage for your plan.
- Trip Interruption – you unexpectedly return home early from your trip. This reimburses you for your unused prepaid trip costs and one-way airfare. This can include being forced to evacuate by the authorities.
5. Join loyalty programs, utilize point systems, monitor the airlines’ social media pages and join their email lists. Join frequent flyer programs and sign up for rewards credit cards that are branded with the airline. Additionally, social media pages and email blasts will update consumers frequently with flash sales and deals.
6. Travelers should book their trips at least 45 days in advance.
7. Consumers should search for flights on a Monday or Tuesday morning, after the airlines have processed demand for flights over the weekend; Mondays and Tuesdays will typically return the lowest fares.
8. Book outbound and return flights on off-peak days, such as Monday through Thursday, with a Saturday night stay.
9. Taking advantage of red-eye flights instead of prime time flights can also help customers save a dramatic amount of money. Furthermore, the cheapest time of day to fly is at the times that most people do not desire to fly, such as red-eyes or overnight flights with connections.
10. When booking, travelers should read and understand the airline rules and restrictions prior to purchasing their tickets. Each fare offers different options that will typically be more restrictive on the lowest priced tickets. Travelers should also pay close attention to the airline ancillary fees, as they vary from carrier to carrier.
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