Whether you’ve experienced that last-minute, several-hour flight delay or the unfortunate experience of an airline losing your baggage, almost all frequent flyers can tell their fair share of holiday horror stories.
But, there are ways to ensure that your air travel experience is as seamless as possible, despite what the airlines want you to think. Here are some tips from the pros to ensure you get the most important money and time savings hacks to get you flying like a pro.
This is the idea of buying a cheaper airline ticket for a flight to anywhere that has a layover at your actual destination. It’s clearly a controversial travel trick, however.
This strategy only works if you book a one-way flight, have no checked bags, and happen to be heading to a destination that is not a regional airline hub.
The idea involves booking a flight with a stop off and not taking the second leg of the journey. For example, if you want to fly from Miami to New York, it could be cheaper to book a flight to Toronto with a change in New York, then just abandon the second part of the journey. The same applies around the world.
Have you ever booked a flight months in advance, only to have your flight schedule change just weeks ahead of your trip?
It turns out, when an airline does that, most are obligated to re-book customers on new flights without any additional fees, and if they newly proposed travel times aren’t acceptable, travellers just may be eligible for a full refund.
However, you are likely to wind up paying more anyways since fares go up the closer you get to your departure, meaning that your full refund may not cover the cost of your new replacement flight.
This will only benefit you in the United States of America. The Department of Transportation issued a directive to all airlines stating that in the event of lost checked bags, and also delayed bags, that there cannot be ‘arbitrary limits’ placed on monetary compensation.
Essentially, this means that while often airlines offer very little in compensation (if any at all) for delayed bags, or simply hand out a future travel voucher or frequent flyer miles, the maximum liability that you can claim may actually be quite a substantial amount.
This doesn’t work for flights in America, so it’s great for visiting South Africans who’s flying into America.
In the EU, you are entitled to a pay-out if your flight is delayed by more than three hours on arrival, if it was the airline’s fault.
On a short flight, the amount payable is 250 Euros per person, and don’t feel obligated to accept vouchers, you’re entitled to the cash, according to the EU Regulation 261/2004.
These rules apply to all flights made from airports in the EU irrespective of the airline, and flights made to EU airports on EU airlines. The rule also cover flights from/to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, even though these countries aren’t in the EU.
But if the disruption was outside of the airline’s control, such as bad weather, air traffic control problems or staff strikes, it doesn’t have to pay out.
The U.S Department of Transport has a similar rule. If the airline gets you to your destination late – between one and two hours of your scheduled arrival on a domestic flight or between one and four hours on an international trip – you may be owed a compensation of 200 percent of the one-way fare to your destination.
If the airline can’t meet those time requirements, it owes you 400 percent of the fare – which could be an excellent holiday bonus.
Recent research from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) has found that it’s best to buy a plane ticket is on a Tuesday – and in more than 21 days in advance – to take advantage of the best possible rates.
But that doesn’t mean those are the best days to take to the skies.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be the days that the airlines have a great surplus of seats available – likely because they are the least convenient days when it comes to accommodating work schedules and weekend getaways – and so, offer the cheapest fares.
Or at least in the United States! The Department of Transportation mandates that during a lengthy Tarmac delay in the U.S (whether you arrive or depart), an airline cannot keep passengers on a plane for more than three hours on a domestic flight or four hours on an international flight without allowing you to get off.
After a two-hour delay, the airline must provide you with food, water and 30 minute updates. So even if you are just connecting through the U.S, it also applies to you.
In the UK or the EU, no equivalent rule exists. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, while there is not specific length of time that airlines can keep you on a parked plane during a delay, it’s expected that ‘all operators abide by the regulations that are in place regarding delayed flights and ensure a suitable level of welfare is maintained’.
Some airlines abroad, let’s you switch the date of your flight by a few weeks, without having to pay more. This gives you a sneaky way to buy a peak-time flight for less. Example, you can buy cheap flights during in-term time, then swap for your chosen school holiday date.
This is of course not fool proof and you’ll need to be careful that the dates will line up correctly to such a plan. But, Nowottny insists that some travellers have saved serious amounts of money using this little-known trick.
There are so many ways to ensure the cheapest possible fare for the flight of your dreams.
According to some frequent flyers, two or more airlines sell the same flights and booking via one partner is cheaper.
Example: If you’re unsure about the flight or the time you’d like to go, some airlines let you book for up to 9 passengers. Book then for 9 passengers and watch the seats. If after a while, the price goes up for three, four or even 5 seats, grab the cheapest seat as soon as possible.
Although plenty of airlines offer incentive for completing a booking on your credit card, it may be wise to pay via credit card instead.
This will give you financial protection in the event should something go wrong. If paying with a credit card is not possible, do take note that it’s still preferred more than paying with cheque, cash or E.F.T.
To make any kind of successful claim, you’ll need to have kept all travel receipts, tickets and any other relevant documentation.
Sneaky tip: Write your experience down while it’s still fresh in your mind, also try adding details like names, times and locations.
This will help support your claims and should get things done faster with an airline.
These are the tips Likemoney has for you when it comes to flying abroad these holidays. To get the best prices for your next holiday flight, click here.
Read more about the things flight attendants don’t tell passengers, things you should know before flying in general.