Researching and Booking Flights

Booking flights online can be as easy as filling in your name and payment card details, but you may be missing out on better flights, deals or maybe you may be booking the wrong airport altogether. This part of the book will show you how to get the most from your flight booking and how to prevent the mistakes that many people make when booking a flight online. It also contains information of compensation for cancelled flights, frequent flyer clubs, lost luggage and more.

Air fares are not guaranteed until tickets are booked or issued (and sometimes not even then if taxes go up before you depart). The only way to guarantee the price is to buy the ticket. So spending time trying to beat the price down may cause you to pay more, as the cheaper ticket could be gone by the time you get back to it. If you like the ticket price, you should book it there and then.

Some sites may allow you to hold the seats before booking, but there is the chance that the price may still go up. The delay in confirming may take you outside of the booking range for that particular fare class for example. Others may store your itinerary, but not the prices or seats. When you return the flight may be fully booked. Even if you give your credit card details, you will not be guaranteed anything until the purchase it made. The card details are just to stop people holding seats with various suppliers. However, ‘live’ agents may be able to hold seats without taking your card details and keeping price as quoted.

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is check your destination. Are you flying to Sydney, or Sidney? Or even Sydney or Sydney? There are plenty of examples of airports with similar names and online bookers do get it wrong. It is not uncommon for travellers to end up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, instead of Sydney (called Kingsford Smith) Australia. A quick search on Google will find you stories of people who have done just that. This is why airport codes are so important. They reduce the chances of ending up in the wrong place.

Airport Codes

An IATA code is a three letter code that uniquely identifies an airport. You may have noticed them when flying in the past. The label printed by the check-in staff for your luggage will have the destination airport code printed on it, for example BCN if you are flying to Barcelona.

IATA is the International Air Transport Association, which represents over 90% of the world’s scheduled airlines. As well as producing these codes, IATA has also introduced measures that allow certified agents to print multi layered paper flight tickets and for the introduction of E-Tickets, which has revolutionised the online booking industry.

The IATA code for Sydney, Nova Scotia is YQY and for Sydney, Australia is SYD. Mixing up YQY and SYD is a lot harder than mixing up Sydney, NS and Sydney, NSW. Care should still be taken, as there is also a SDY, which is Sidney (Richland Municipal) in Montana, USA.

This is also important for extras such as car hire or transfers. Another common mistake is to land at one city airport, but hire the car at another. Florida gives us the example of passengers landing at Orlando International (MCO) but booking their car at Orlando Sanford International (SFB), which is around 25 miles away.
Annex B lists common airport codes used by UK travellers.