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7 'Need to Know' Rules For Booking a Flight Online

By Patricia Thomasson
Here are the 7 rules you need to know to make sure you have a successful experience booking a flight online. News reports have made us painfully aware of the difficulties that the airlines have been having in recent years. To try to succeed financial, many of the airlines have drastically cut back on the number of flights scheduled. This makes it necessary for traveling people to plan ahead and work smart in order to have a pleasant experience.

Rule One: You need to start shopping early if you're booking a flight for any holidays, a wedding, or a luxury cruise. There have been capacity cuts on all the airlines these last couple of years, so there will be fewer seats for those holiday flights.

If you're going on an impromptu trip, you can look and book at the last minute, but if you HAVE to be there for Christmas or Mother's Day or a wedding or that cruise, booking a flight at least six weeks ahead is probably a good idea.

Rule Two: Based on the experience of Internet booking gurus, it is suggested that the best time to shop for your flight online is a Monday or Tuesday. Airlines typically lower fares early in the week and raise them again toward the weekend. A website like will do a comprehensive fare search for you and give you a head start on your quest for booking a flight. This should return a list of flights with the best schedule and price.

Rule Three: You may want to drive to a smaller airport in your area to avoid crowds and maybe you might even save money. You may find that airfares and parking can be cheaper at those outlying airports too.

Rule Four: If your time off allows it, try to fly on non-peak days. In the U.S. a good rule is to avoid the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after because both of those are definitely PEAK travel days and will be the most expensive.

Rule Five: In addition to checking flights on only the broad search engines are the place to look, check airline sites in your search for booking a flight. Airlines pay commissions to other booking engines, so more and more they are posting the best air fares on their own sites. You may find specials that other search engines can't find. These non-advertised specials often pop up for a short time.

Rule Six: You will want to try to avoid itineraries that involve several connections or several airlines. Every stop and connection is a possible problem for missed connections. You might save a couple of dollars if every thing goes right, but you'll have a real headache if things go wrong. If you've got to be there, a couple of extra bucks for a non-stop or direct flight is well worth the peace of mind! Be sure to get up early and catch the first flight as it is the one that is least likely to be delayed.

Rule Seven: For those "must be there" trips such as for a holiday, a wedding, or a cruise, we suggest booking your flight at least 24 hours before you need to be there. If you have a connection, make sure there is enough time to get to the next plane in case the first one is delayed. Look for a minimum connection time of two hours.

Weather delays happen summer or winter and the airlines are not responsible for these. The airlines will not compensate you. They will try to get you on the next available flight, but that might not be until the next day, and if you haven't allowed enough time, you may miss the boat or the wedding.

Follow these seven rules and you will prevent some of the headaches that might develop if your airline flights go astray. Be smart and plan well when you're booking a flight online and your trip will get off to a good start and as a bonus you'll arrive on time.

If you enjoy traveling as much as I do, find some ideas for your next trip by visiting us at You may even find some ways to make your next trip more successful and possibly save you some money. Patricia Thomasson enjoys sharing her travel experiences and photos at
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