Between the varying prices of airfare, the hassle of security checks and the confusion you may face at the airport, the process of getting from here to there by air can be a big headache. But, if you familiarize yourself in advance with some of the procedures involved, you’ll succeed with flying colors.
Booking the Flight
It’s a good idea to set a budget and start searching for a ticket at least a few months in advance of your trip. Ticket prices do vary, but make sure your budget is realistic. For example, you’ll never find a flight from New York City to Honolulu for $200. There are numerous price aggregators online. Advice for when to buy an optimally priced ticket varies, so your best bet is to start your search early, check back often and buy when you see a price that aligns with your budget.
Once you find the right price, see if you can book your airfare through the airline’s official website. If not, a third-party booking site will do fine. Just be aware that when booking from third-party travel agencies, the customer service is limited and if you need to change something, it may prove to be difficult.
Making Changes to Your Ticket
Even if you purchased your ticket from a major airline, you can expect to incur fees if you want to change the date. Other changes, like the name on the ticket or the destination, are typically not allowed.
Planning ahead and packing properly will help you get through the screening process quickly. For example, don’t bring anything sharp or anything with a blade, like a knife or corkscrew in your carry-on luggage. A full list of prohibited items is available at: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items If possible, pack everything you need into your carry-on to save the baggage checking fee. If that’s not possible, check with your airline about baggage fees and include that in your budget.
At times, your journey will require multiple “legs.” A leg is a flight from one airport to another. You may or may not need to switch planes. If you do need to switch planes, make sure to leave yourself sometime between the arrival of the first leg and the departure of the second. If you missed the second flight because of airport delays, but you booked a reasonable amount of time between flights, the airline is obligated to find you a flight to your final destination. Head to the airline’s customer service desk to sort it out.
One more consideration: Nonstop flights generally cost more than multiple-leg flights, so if you can forgo the ease of a nonstop flight and take a one-stop or two-stop flight instead, you’re likely to save some money.