Travel Agent Unpacks For Us The 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Booking A Flight

When we book flights ourselves, we typically rely on third-party sites to help build itineraries. From flight routes and layover times to airfare and airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) are pretty good at providing us with flight options to choose from. However, these OTAs aren't perfect, and there are plenty of things to consider when creating an itinerary.

Explore spoke exclusively with travel agent Kristen Medina Biazon, of Kris10 Travel Inc, concerning the errors we often make when booking a flight. Although you may be tempted to grab the fastest or cheapest flights when booking through an OTA, some flight itineraries may actually create serious problems for flyers. Fortunately, according to Medina Biazon, there are simple solutions for avoiding these three common mistakes. While saving time and money is always an attractive proposition, you may need to dig a little deeper to find a flight itinerary that doesn't include surprise costs or surprise headaches. 

Special considerations when traveling abroad

Common mistakes can arise when it comes to international travel and the extra precautions we should take when traveling abroad. "When traveling internationally, it's always better to give yourself some breathing room to account for time lost going through security, looking for your gate, and other activities that will take up time while you transfer to your connecting flight," Medina Biazon explained.

She continued to offer examples of her clients' flight schedules changing due to weather or passenger emergencies. She recommends allowing at least three hours of layover time on international flights to allow for optimal flexibility.

Medina Biazon — who also offers tips and advice on Instagram and TikTok — notes that most of us don't consider transit visas when traveling internationally. "There are many countries that still require transit visas for many passport holders. Before booking your ticket, verify with your travel agent or the airline if you need a transit visa," said Medina Biazon. "Some countries will require this for passengers who will enter the country temporarily to switch flights or transportation modes. Without a transit visa, you may be prohibited from boarding your flights."

This is an excellent point. While you may not need a transit visa if you stay within a "transit zone," such as the airport's international terminal, you may require a transit visa if you need to transfer flights and check into the airport. "Travel with airlines that fly direct or under the same airline alliance to avoid the need for transit visas," recommends Medina Biazon.

You may pay more for the cheapest fare

A final common mistake Medina Biazon notes among both domestic and international travelers is choosing the absolutely cheapest flight itinerary. "Expect to get what you pay for when booking budget airlines. Most of the time their flights are delayed and often do not include seat assignments or checked bags," Medina Biazon explained.

While you may understand that airlines are "budget" for a reason, you may be less aware of pricing models that allow airlines to advertise — sometimes deceptively — low airfare. Due to the airline industry's embrace of unbundled pricing models, the cheapest fare may actually cost you more, depending on your situation. "When you add everything up, your total cost could end up costing more than a legacy airline ticket with everything included," said Medina Biazon.

Medina Biazon recommends double-checking the cost of the budget airline's airfare with any add-on fees included, such as the price for seat selection and checked baggage, and comparing that price with a legacy airline's fare with these benefits included. After comparing actual costs, you'll have a better perspective when shopping for flights.