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My kids have been urging me to buy my airline ticket online.

You write a blog about using the Internet in a grand fashion. Try buying your ticket online.

Why I have been reluctant?

My kids have been  buying their tickets online for a few years and were satisfied. However, I was reticent because

  • I  have always used a travel agent .
  • I don’t always fly between major hub like JFK and Heathrow.
  • Most of my travel is long-haul with a change of planes.
  • I have special needs without which travel would be impossible.
  • I had tried in the past and had difficulties navigating the travel, and especially the airline, sites.

Special Needs

I don’t want to kvetch, but my special needs are an important element in this posting. And quite frankly, without having them served, I cannot travel especially on very long flights with plane changes.

Seat:  Not just on the aisle but  so my left knee can be extended into the aisle. Not in the rear with all the bumps and it must recline normally.

Mobility assistance   (love this new term) in the airports.

My wonderful, long-time travel agent knew all about these needs and had taken care of them graciously. But, times have changed.

OK, kids, with your help, here I go—-booking online.

Step One:  Figure out my requirements.

I found that, just like working with a travel agent, it is important to have a good idea of what you needed before you look at the travel sites. These are some of the questions I remember their asking.

      • Who is flying?
      • Where are you going? More than one place (Multi destinations)?
      • Dates, flexible or specific, like your son’s wedding?
      • How many stops to change planes can you tolerate?
      • Do you want a layover in a specific city, such as a day in London?
      • How much do you want to pay? Class, such as economy or special economy?
      • How many bags will you need to take?
      • Frequent Flier programs?
      • Special needs?

In my case, I was traveling alone, going directly from one location to another with no layovers, and  my dates were somewhat flexible. Of course, I want to minimize the cost and the number of  plane changes.

I need two bags—yes, shopping.  And, my special needs you already have read.

Also, because I’m flying a long distance, I want “premium economy”.

What is “premium economy”?

“Premium Economy” is a class between business and regular economy.  The amenities vary among airlines and whether you are on a domestic or international flight.  The bottom line is that you have at least a somewhat more comfortable seat with more leg room.   I flew premium economy my last long flight and it was well worth the extra fare.  I slept!!!!

Wikipedia has a good explanation and a listing for each airline. Click on red and open in a new tab

Step Two:  Onto the Internet

Into a search browser:  airline tickets online

NOTE:  When I was doing my online search, I found  major differences between search engines. I regularly use Google Chrome but found that Yahoo and Bing search engines were better for looking for airline ticket sites.  You do not need to download these search engines to use them.  Just go to Yahoo.com and Bing.com on  your present search engine.

So Many Sites

In the past, I found that there were just a few and they were not easy to use. Not any more.  Almost all of the sites were easy to use. BUT, now, there were so many of them.

I decided to keep it simple and compare the results from only three  online travel sites that my kids told me.  You also can check if your own travel agent has an online site.

What I am looking for right now is an idea of possible flights and prices.   I found that the sites were much easier to use than in the past.  Some even remember each of your searches on that site even if you don’t.

Online Travel Sites   Click on red and open in a new tab

 

expedia.com

 

 

 

orbitz.com

 

 

kayak.com

 

 

Specific Airline Online Sites

I found that I just was not ready to purchase a ticket from an online travel agent especially since I had those special needs.  Nonetheless, from these sites I was able to get an idea of which airlines had the better offerings for my destination.  My kids already had booked directly with the airline specific sites so I felt more confident contact doing this.   Click on red and open in a new tab

 

Delta Airlines

 

 

 

AirFrance

 

 

BEWARE:  The Cheapest is not necessarily the cheapest!

Several times I thought I had found the listed least expensive flight only to find out that it was not what I really wanted. It left at an undesirable time plane leaves, especially on the return flight   Or were not very direct or with long layovers. If I wanted the same airline going to the same destination at my preferred times, often that flight was more expensive.

Be sure of what is not included in price.   For example, can you take a second bag for free or do you have to pay $120 each way.  One airline may seem cheaper until you add the $240 or the price of a hotel if there is a long layover.

And then there are the FEES.

These fees vary so greatly by airlines, domestic or international, and class that it is important to take them into account when comparing the overall price of a ticket.

What did I decide?  AirFrance

I’ll write more about my experience of buying a ticket online in my next blog.

Other Information

The Internet is almost saturated with information about saving money when you fly.  Just put in your browser: save money flying

Love to hear about your experience booking your flights online.

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