tips for booking flights

Many things can happen during the trip but some of them can be fixed many days before you will leave your house. As people are saying: always assure, never assume. That’s why, after my last setback with flights booking, I decided to share with you my top 5 tips for booking flights.

1. Check your visas

You can be true road warrior traveling across the globe, knowing all the travel life hacks, but never underestimate visa expiration period… Yes, I know personally a man who realized at the airport’s counter desk that his visa gone out a few days ago. You can imagine what kind of trouble he got.

Always check visa expiration date before hitting the button – buy a ticket. The best is to set up the alarm in the google calendar to notify you early enough about visa expiration.

2. Always keep enough time for your connection flight

If your starting point is in Europe, you should take this rule seriously especially in two directions China and USA. You need to take into account immigration office. I can share with you my experience with connecting flight in Beijing, Shanghai, Atlanta and New York. It’s no big difference in time spent in the immigration office in China or the US. The process is the same. As an example, I will share with you my experience from China, Beijing.

Immigration procedure

To not go crazy keep 2,5 up to 3 hours of distance between your arrival to your transit airport and connecting flight. Remember – your flight can be a bit late and this will decrease your time buffer.

You will go through the following process:

  1. In a plane, you will receive the immigration document to fill in advance – do it. It’s a yellow paper where you enter basic data like your name, date of birth, your destination address and what is the purpose of the visit. Yes, this is one of these situations when it’s good to have a pen with you 🙂 I was writing about it in my previous post about how to pack for a business trip.
  2. Next, go through fingerprints scanning (automatic), take a printed ticket and go to the appropriate queue to meet the immigration officer. Even if the length of the queue will frighten you, don’t worry – Chinese people came to perfection with the handling of massive crowds. You will spend there from 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Then, quickly go get your luggage – it will be not transferred to the domestic flight unless you are traveling with China carrier like for example: Air China.
  4. You need to check it again on the appropriate counter in the departures hall.
  5. Go through the security control.

Above described process, base on my experience should take no more than 2 hours. Take this as one of the most important tips for booking the flights.

3. Book your flight on one ticket

Number 3 on my tips for booking flights list says: you should avoid booking your flight segments on separate tickets. If something will happen and the first plane will be late, in result you will not catch the connecting flight you will have fewer options to react. Of course, sometimes there is no choice to do different, but try to avoid it.

4. Never pick the configuration: evening arrival, morning departure in China

This is probably the most important advice among my 5 tips for booking flights. I did like this once and I will never do it again. I was coming back from Chongqing. The arrival to Beijing was scheduled for 23:45. The problem is that my return flight to Europe was scheduled for 8 in the morning – I thought that I will spend this night in the cosy armchair in the business lounge. Of course just after I left the plane I realized that all counters are locked (I had to check again my luggage – the same procedure like in point 1). That was a beautiful night for me 🙂 Below you can see the photo taken at 3 o’clock in the morning that day… Trust me – this is the most important from my 5 tips for booking flights.

Beijing airport in the middle of the night
Beijing airport in the middle of the night

5. Think twice before you will pick the air carrier

Not all flights go as planned. If you travel often then there will be a day when you will face your first plane delay and first flight cancellation. Each day 2% of flights are canceled and 25% is delayed – and this is worldwide… As you can see, your chances are… low to avoid such things for a longer time.

But don’t worry, nowadays passenger’s rights are protected by the law and since 2004 it’s much easier to get the flight delay compensation. It’s easier but still, there are airlines which make problems with that. You can check in the AirHelp carriers ranking that for example Easyjet and Ryanair take a backseat of the giving compensation for delays ranking. Only 2% to 3% of claims without legal backing received compensation. Therefore think twice before you will pick your carrier and try to select these from top of the ranking.

And in case of problems with getting your flight claim compensation, there are companies like AirHelp and their lawyers can really make a difference in ensuring you get your compensation. If you need more information on claiming your flight you should look to my Flight delay compensation guidebook for more details.

That’s all for now – I’m going to edit this post whenever I will discover something new. If you have some experience with tips for booking flights, please share it in comments.

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