There are many things that you will need to check on, both the airfare and with your travels in general. I’ve added this post into the blog because of the fees and charges associated with some of the following mistakes can be costly… in some cases extremely costly.
The first and probably the most important thing to check is your passport. Do you have 6 months validity left on the passport from the date that you land back in your country of origin?
This has to be 6 months from the day you land, not the day you leave your destination. Don’t forget about the different time zones around the world.
Just because you leave on the date of the 1st doesn’t mean you get home on the 1st you might arrive the date before or the date after, depending on your time zone.
The airport security will stop you from boarding your flight at the airport; hopefully this will happen on your way out so that you don’t get detained overseas. This happened to one of my clients when I was a travel agent, even though I made sure he was aware of this rule.
The problem was his passport ran out 1 day before the date he landed in Sydney. He thought that would be fine, because it was only 1 day. He was wrong. The airport security did not allow him to pass the security check point.
This guy had to ring his consultant and organise an emergency passport, but to make matters worse he was unable to cancel this flight as it was within 24h hours, and yes this did mean he needed to buy a new flight as well.
All this cost and headache all for being 1 day short on his passport. Another very important thing to check on your passport is the exact names and spelling.
This sounds silly, because you should know your own name however you would be surprised at how many people forget about their middle names. If your middle name is on the passport, then it must be on your booking as well.
If your middle name is not on the passport then it does not go on the booking. In short your passport name must exactly match the booking. If it doesn’t then you
will not be allowed to board. If you have married since your last renewal passport or are just about to get married then make sure that you know what surname is on the passport.
Your passport may still be in your maiden name… this is extremely important. If you have noticed that your name is spelt incorrect before the full payment is needed make sure the travel agent changes it straight away.
When you pay in full, the agent will pay the airline and your name will be set in stone on the booking. In general you should always make sure you check your details and in particular the names, dates and the destination before paying in full anyway.
If you notice your name is spelt incorrectly after paying in full, then you will need to pay a hefty fee to change your details. Usually if you book with an airline directly then you may only pay around $50 for the change.
However the agency I used to work for use to charge $150 for most name changes, because for agents to change the booking on your behalf attracts fees and commissions for the agent and the airline.
According to bidvest car rental dates are also very important, because the same rules apply for making the change, but getting the dates wrong are even harder to change.
First of all you will pay the $50-$150 change fee but then you also need to take into consideration what tier of booking class the airline has left on your new dates.
Plus you need to pay any increase that your booking class has accumulated from normal cost of living and fuel prices rising. This certainly can and does change, especially if you booked well in advance.
For example if you booked your flight 6 months ago and you’re due to leave next week but want to change that date to something earlier then there may be costs on the new seating availability on this new flight and date but also any increase of your original fare. Let me explain further in the below example. Let’s say you booked your flight for $1,000 originally. Inflation has hit and now, at the time you are making the change, the airline sells that specific fare at $1,100 as its standard fare.
This will cover the increase of food and fuel from normal cost of living. So already your flight has gone up $100. Now what about availability? You booked 6 months ago originally, so back then hardly anyone had booked any seats. Now you want to leave within a week… so do you think the same amount of seats will be available still?
The answer is probably not… possible but not probable. So far you’ve already had to pay the extra cost of the fare which is now $1,100 plus the change and amendment fees charged by the airline at $50.
Now you need to find those available booking class/seats. Let’s say the next available booking class is $2,000 (instead of the lowest booking class $1,000). Ok so now let’s add up all these costs. Firstly you paid a minimum of $50 change fee, $100 in the fare increase and now another $900 for an available seat (higher booking class) on the new flight.
That amounts to a total of $1,050 just in airline fees, charges and increases. All this costs is purely just to leave a few days earlier and left it so late to change the dates in the above example. So if you must change the dates, make sure you do it as early as possible.
This will help to reduce the increase in fare (if inflation hasn’t been recalculated) as well as reducing the risk of paying a higher booking class.
If you change early then there should be more seats available on the new flight, especially when compared to a last minute change. If you can avoid changing the dates altogether, then obviously it would help save you a lot of money. I also mentioned that you should check your destination as well. Yes this does sound really silly but it has happened to passengers before.
You might book a flight to Perth in Scotland, but end up in Western Australia for example. Thankfully as an agent that had never happened to any of my clients but it is the horror stories they teach about you when starting out.
This is to point out how important it is to check all your details, even your destination. If you land in the wrong country then unfortunately there is not much you can do to save cost. All you can do is go with the flow and make that your new destination instead really.
The alternative is to buy a one-way flight to your correct destination and one way from there back home.
This will be very expensive! Hopefully it was your travel agents fault, so you can recover money from them. I also want to cover in this section some of the airfare rules that may significantly impact your money if you get it wrong. Not many people are aware that these rules even exist until they get stung.
The first and most important is the cancellation and changes rule. Some airfares do not allow cancellation or changes. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t want to go, they are going to force you.
No, it means that you don’t get a cent back if you do cancel. Some of the airlines do the same with changes, yet another reason why it is vital to check you booking details to your passport. On these fares, if you get it wrong then you have to purchase a whole new ticket. It is unfair of these airlines, but they can get away with it and will blame the passenger for not reading their terms and conditions. So do make sure you know about the cancellation and amendments.