Airlines and Aviation
Travellers often make mistakes when booking flights, and these mistakes can lead to more than inconvenience. They can also waste your time and money. Here are the 10 most common mistakes – and how to avoid them.
A simple mistake can cost you big, and sometimes it’s not even your fault. Check out what happens when a friend of Michael Taylor’s misses her flight – through no fault of her own – and a hotel refuses to postpone her booking.
I can’t remember all of the details, but it goes something like this.
A friend of mine is planning to fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong, where she will spend one night in a hotel, because she is going to attend a conference the next day and wants to be near the venue.
My friend books an airline ticket first. She wants to make sure she can get on a flight before booking a hotel. She prints out her ticket and goes to the airport, where she checks in at the check-in counter. Everything seems okay.
She then heads to security, where she encounters no problem.
After passing through security, my friend finds a place to chill out while she looks for a hotel near the conference venue on her smart phone. She books a room. So far so good.
When my friend gets to the gate and is about to board the plane to Hong Kong, however, the agent spots an inconsistency between what’s printed on her e-ticket and what is printed on her passport.
The inconsitency was caused by a technical glitch – nothing that my friend did wrong. Not only that, it is somthing very minor, but my friend is not allowed to board the flight nevertheless.
The issue is quickly resolved, but not until after the flight departs. My friend is able to fly to Hong Kong the next day.
As soon as my friend realizes she will miss her flight, she immediately calls the hotel, explains what has happened, and asks to postpone her reservation by one night. The hotel flatly refuses – even though she calls the hotel within less than an hour of making the reservation.
My friend tries to be reasonable, but the hotel won’t budge, claiming that the hotel is fully booked so it can’t give her her money back.
My friend explains that she doesn’t want her money back, she simply wants to postpone her reservation until either the following night or the first available date.
“I’m flexible,” shes says. “Just name a date, and I’ll take it!”
The hotel refuses, and my friend is out about US$250. Because of a technical glitch, which was not even here fault …
How to Avoid a Booking Mishap
After performing an analysis of more than 400,000 flight bookings, travel experts at FlightNetwork.com determined that there were 10 common mistakes that travellers make when booking flights.
Did my friend make one of them? She doesn’t think so. She claims it was NOT her fault.
Whatever. For the record, it might be a good idea to check out this list. It might not guarantee that you’ll avoid a mishap, but at least it will reduce your chances that one will happen.
There are a couple of things you really have to watch out for. The first is making sure that you are booking to or from the right city.
When people think of London, they usually think of London, England. But there is also a London, Ontario. When they think of Vancouver, they usually think of Vancouver, British Columbia. But there is also a Vancouver, Washington.
If you are booking with a real live person, they will usually catch the mistake. But not necessarily if you are booking on line …
When I was in Vancouver, British Columbia, last year, I booked a train ticket from Vancouver to Seattle. When I got to the train station, I was told that I was booked from Vancouver, Washington, not Vancouver, British Columbia!
Fortunately, Amtrak was reasonable and refunded my money, even though the ticket was non-refundable. But it resulted in a major inconvenience, and I had to travel by Greyhound Bus rather than train.
I also had to track down the person that was supposed to meet me at the train station.
Another is late night departures. Many people get confused when they book flights departing past midnight – or departing before midnight and arriving past midnight.
They are thinking Monday night, when it is actually Tuesday morning. I have made this mistake more than once. Fortunately I have always caught the mistake before leaving home.
But many people arrive at the airport on the wrong night and then have to sort things out, which is not always a picnic.