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12 things I wish I knew before I bought expensive airline tickets

Not only beginners but also experienced travellers make mistakes when purchasing their flight tickets. And sometimes it can cost them a lot of money. Most of these mistakes usually happen because they didn’t know. This is why I decided to write an article in which I will bring up the most frequent mistakes travellers do. I hope it will help you to avoid them and save a lot of money. And in case you will miss something in my article, please be nice to your “colleagues” and leave them a comment!

Last-minute flights

It’s true that last minute flights can be cheap. However, you need to be quite flexible with the final destination and date. If you are not flexible, then you should consider waiting for a special deal (if you still have enough time) or purchase the ticket.

Basically, the best time to purchase your flight tickets is usually 3-6 months before the actual flight. It mostly depends on the airline. Special deals can also occur earlier or later.

Nonetheless, if you travel during Christmas, New Year or holidays, consider buying these tickets as soon as possible. There’s a chance of discount showing up, but especially if you are not flexible, don’t wait for it, many people want to travel during the period and the tickets can be more and more expensive.


Your final destination

Sometimes it can happen, that you mess up with your final destination. It also happened to Czech traveller Barbora who almost bought tickets to La Paz in Mexico City instead of La Paz in Bolivia.

Hence you should always double check the final destination. Remember that every airport has its unique code: e.g. La Paz in Bolivia is LBP, while La Paz in Mexico is LAP.

On the other hand, you can also make mistake when using these codes. Just try to find a flight that includes Prague. Type “PR” to Skyscanner search engine and you can mistakenly buy a flight to Parana, Argentina (PRA), Prague (PRG) or Puerco Rico (PR).

So, remember: double check, triple check!


Where is the airport?

It happened to me that I bought cheap tickets from Heathrow Airport in London. I thought I’m fine because flights from the Czech Republic to the UK are super cheap. Well, I was wrong. The cheapest flights terminate at the Stansted Airport. Far away from Heathrow. In the end, we paid more money and we spent more time travelling than we would actually spend if we decided to fly to our final destination straight from Prague.

Remember that there are multiple airports, especially in big cities. Always check that you have enough time to move from one flight to another and also make sure that it’s still worth the time and money.

Airports in the city can be quite far
Airports in the city can be quite far. Source: maps.google.com

The magic of connecting flights

This is one of the mistakes that I’ve already seemed several times. Imagine that you found a super cheap flight from Amsterdam to Madagascar (250 euro for roundtrip). You get excited and purchase the flight immediately. Later on, you buy another flight from your home airport to Amsterdam.

Well, guess what! There’s a staff strike at your home airport. You will miss your connecting flight to Madagascar and the airline refuses to refund you because airport staff strike was something unpredictable. Well, you only have two options. You either give up of your pre-paid trip or you pay even more for a last-minute flight ticket from Amsterdam.

Of course, you should always communicate with your airlines, maybe they will help you if you are lucky enough. However, it’s always better to avoid this mistake because if you buy all your tickets at once, your airlines will take care of you.


One way or roundtrip?

Imagine that you need to fly from London to Paris and you don’t plan to return back to London. You, surprisingly, find return ticket (Paris – London – Paris) that is cheaper than a one-way ticket from London to Paris.

Of course, you will buy the cheaper one thinking that you can simply ignore the first flight and then fly with the second one. Well, be careful as it can get tricky. Sometimes airlines automatically cancel the return ticket if you do not use the previous one. And guess what happens then? You have to buy a last-minute one-way ticket which is super expensive!

Buy your flight tickets wisely - it will save you time and money for your beautiful vacation.
Buy your flight tickets wisely – it will save you time and money for your beautiful vacation.

Skipping connecting flight

Petra once had a great idea. She wanted to visit the Maldives for Christmas, but she found out that it was cheaper to buy a ticket to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The flight was supposed to stopover in Male, so she thought that she could simply skip the following flight.

Well, it was not possible because she wasn’t moving to another plane. Only a few people were allowed to leave in Male (those, who paid for their flight to Male) and then the flight continued to Colombo. Petra was lucky because she managed to leave the flight in Male, but you should not try this.


Buying your ticket from an agent

This was my worst experience ever. I had no idea who agents are and what they do, and I bought a ticket from one of them.

Agents are websites where you can quite often buy your tickets cheaper than from the airline itself. However, once you want to change something, you have to pay them a lot of money.

In my case, the agent became insolvent after many years. I needed to cancel my ticket and I was supposed to contact my airlines, but they refused to talk to me. In the end, I managed to talk to someone who promised me to refund our tickets, but we are still waiting for the final decision.

You should be careful when using the search engine. Since then, I always search for the flight and then I go straight to the website of my chosen airline. I don’t care if I pay a little bit more money now because I know it can later save me from a stressful situation.

You can buy your ticket from many sources, which one do you choose?
You can buy your ticket from many sources, which one do you choose? Source: Skyscanner.com


Luggage policies are the worst when it comes to making mistakes. Some companies let you bring handbag of this size, some let you bring them 2, some allow you to have checked baggage as well.

You should remember that it’s not the same everywhere. Different airlines have different rules, which you should always check on their websites and decide in advance whether you want to buy an additional bag or not.

Otherwise, and trust me that it already happened to many people, you might have to pay for your additional or oversized luggage at the airport (and it will be expensive).


Online check-in

Some companies will allow you to make your check-in online. Sometimes they even require it – if you don’t make it online, then you will do what? Pay! There are also companies that do not have an online check-in – in such cases, you obviously won’t have to pay.

Again, always check this with your airline.


Use Incognito window

This is one of the most famous tips between travellers. Many people claim that tickets from certain airlines changed to be more expensive after the airline found out from their searching that they want to go to a certain place. Whether it’s true or not, search plane tickets from your browser’s Incognito window, it can save you some money.

You do not want to pay for your bags at the airport.
You do not want to pay for your bags at the airport.

Changing your name or date

People are used to thinking that they can freely change or cancel their reservations, but it doesn’t work this way with flights. If you, later on, decide that you want to travel on a different day, or you even want to sell the ticket to somebody else, you will have to pay. And especially the name change can be more expensive than the plane ticket itself.



It might cost you some time and maybe a little bit of money for the phone calls, but you can get back more.

Last, but maybe the most important advice is here. We are only humans, we have plans, but things can change in a second; we all make mistakes. If a problem already occurs, don’t give up. Communicate with your airline, send them emails, call them, and if you feel that something really unfair happened to you, then ask someone else to help you. It might cost you some time and maybe a little bit of money for the phone calls, but you can get back more – money, or good feeling that you at least tried.


Let me know in the comments if there are any mistakes missing. I’m sure your advice can help many people!


May your vacation be perfect!
May your vacation be perfect!
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