I’ve only started travelling overseas in the last 10 years but I consider myself quite accomplished in the art of booking my trips. Being a budget traveller, I do it all myself on the internet: flights, accommodation, as well as land travel. Here are some tips on booking international flights for baby boomers.
Secrets To Booking your flights.
I have heard people rave about the premium economy, but I can tell you, on Qantas at least, the legroom is so infinitesimally greater as to be undetectable on the one flight that I scored an “upgrade “ to premium economy. I certainly wouldn’t pay any more for it, unless you are planning to use your frequent flyer points to upgrade to business class.
My tip for booking the best seats on the long haul flight if you can’t afford business class?
Book the very last row! It’s Row 88 on an Airbus 380.
If you’re travelling with a companion, book alternate seats. Every time my partner and myself flew, we had the entire four seats to ourselves, which allowed one of us to stretch out over 3 seats to sleep. Budget business class!
Pay extra for seat selection?
For shorter flights, don’t bother paying extra to select a seat. I thought I was being clever in selecting an exit row seat for extra legroom when I flew Athens to Istanbul on a budget Turkish airline. I was mightily disappointed when I discovered I couldn’t fit into the seat as it had solid metal between each seat and my hips just wouldn’t squeeze in.
The stewardess offered me an extension seatbelt and I had to try to explain it wasn’t the extra length I needed but extra width. If I ever need an extension seatbelt for flights, that will be my indicator that my travelling days are over!
Generally, there is no need to confirm your flights 72 hours before departure. But watch your emails for any last-minute changes in flight times. For this reason, I think it’s a good idea to have your email connected to your phone.
Flying in Winter
If you’re flying in winter, and booking connecting flights with different airlines, leave enough time between flights to allow for possible snowing in of airports. You can’t cover every possible weather condition, but allowing for a late flight can save you a lot of hassles.
For booking flights in Europe, I have found www.skyscanner.com.au very helpful not only in searching for the cheapest flights, but also the various routes that are possible. The cheapest flight advertised may not necessarily be the actual cheapest if you have to add check-in luggage on top of the flight. I have seen the cost of the baggage more expensive than the actual flight!
Also, check that the price includes all charges and taxes. And when you see the flight you want at a reasonable price, book it! If you leave it until the next day, all the seats at that price may have disappeared. Conversely, if the prices are more than you can afford, it may be better to wait until something more reasonable becomes available.
For example, I wanted to fly from Istanbul to Lisbon. A direct flight was listed at more than $1000! I eventually found a much longer flight via Athens and Frankfurt for a mere fraction of the cost. And the cheapest way to get back to Tel Aviv from Lisbon was via Frankfurt and Athens!
And I’m Off, Again!
I have just booked a flight from London to Casablanca, and the best (and cheapest) flight was via Madrid. Unfortunately, it leaves from Heathrow! However, I did manage to book flights to and from Reykjavik from Luton Airport. That will be a new experience, and cannot possibly be as daunting as Heathrow! Wish me luck!
To read more of my travel adventures, go to Baby Boomers’ Budget Travel