Flight attendants, ticketing/reservation officers and aviation experts interviewed by this correspondent at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, say prospective international travellers must know how to go about getting affordable tickets in order to save cash.
Below are 12 things to know before buying that international air ticket, according to experts:
1. Carefully outline your journey
The first thing to do, experts say, is to investigate thoroughly where you are going to and outline how you intend getting there. They note that international carriers often fly into the capital cities of most countries.
This however, does not rule out the fact that there are other internationally certified airports where some airlines go to. A flight attendant at MMIA, who simply identified herself is Adelyne, says many international travellers often make the mistake of flying directly to capital cities whereas they can get flights to their destinations.
2. Research prices
It is important for international travellers to compare prices both online and with ticketing and reservation officers of airlines. Check the websites of various international airlines and research through flight scanner sites. Experts say you may also contact an agent, because you never know where you may get the best fare. According to them, you may also consider travelling with a carrier with good records. They note that some developed nations have low cost carriers that can be found online.
3. Take advantage of online tickets
A Lagos-based aviation consultant and former President, National Cabin Crew Association of Nigeria, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, says that travellers should take advantage of the occasionally reduced amount of fares online. Experts note that some airlines during promotions, reduce the amount which their tickets are sold. Experts say that these reductions are often reflected in the cost of online tickets.
According to them, a travel agent may not give you information about the budget carriers. This is why you may need to research online yourself first.
They say routes and schedules are subject to change. Meanwhile findings show that airfares almost change daily, so it is important for a traveller to research these sites well before settling on his final itinerary.
4. Scout for airport taxis from reliable agents
Many travellers ignore plans on how to move out of the airport after disembarking their flights. For instance, when the departure time of a flight is delayed, it directly implies that the flight will arrive later than the scheduled arrival time. Most times, some late flights get to their destinations at night. Any traveller on such flight without initial plans of how to leave the airport, especially if he lives some miles away, may end up spending extra money on hotel bills.
It is therefore advisable, according to industry experts, for travellers to make post-arrival plans with accredited travel agents on how to get airport taxis that will take them home.
5. Search for interconnecting flights
Some good airlines may also offer regional tickets once you’re in the region where they operate, so it is important you ask. Air miles can add up quickly if you’re coming from a long way away and plan at least a second trip in the next year or so. Investigate and consider joining a programme.
6. Study regional passes
Experts say individuals travelling to a country that they are completely unfamiliar with should endeavour to study the regional passes of the location they intend travelling to. This may not be too important, but it will serve as a form of enlightenment while on the trip.
Also, this should be studied so as to know how it might either fit into your itinerary based on where the flights can take you. Bangkok Airways and Lao Airlines provide a good-value flight coupon for this purpose known as The Discovery Airpass.
7. Pay extra for flexibility if necessary
Depending on why you are travelling, it is also important that you read the guidelines for the purchase of your ticket thoroughly. Reason being that you may have to pay extra for some flexibility to change your dates. Generally, flight attendants say, the cheaper the ticket, the less flexible it is.
8. Keep your journey simple
If you are planning to do a round-the-world trip, do not fuss over having too many stops factored into one ticket. Instead, have either a single arrival and departure point, or one in and another out. Experts advise that you do any flying in a particular region with a low cost airline otherwise the extra stops will boost the cost of your trip considerably.
9. Try a paperless ticket
Most airlines, airports and agents now promote the use of paperless tickets, according to industry practitioners. They say what an international traveller generally needs is a passport, a booking reference and perhaps the credit card with which he bought the ticket to enable him check in. This, they say, reduces the excuses of losing tickets due to one reason or the other.
10. Make provision for additional charges
Some airlines, airports authorities, or agencies may demand for payment of taxes or any other levy at the point of departure. So, it is important for travellers to always have additional sum to present when faced with such. For instance, some time in the past in Nigeria, the operators of a local terminal demanded for some payment from travellers before allowing them embark on their flights.
11. Travel light if possible
Airlines place charges on virtually every thing which a traveller is travelling with, and it will only be a matter of time till you are required to pay money for oxygen on the flight, according to some analysts. Many carriers are now charging for checking bags. So for a traveller who is travelling light, he should work towards saving some funds by searching for a ticket that has no baggage surcharges.
12. Keep to time
This is one of the most vital elements of travelling. Ticketing and reservation officers of airlines can be ruthless when it comes to check-in times, often closing the check-in counter 45 minutes before departure time. If you arrive 43 minutes before departure, this might be too bad. So read the details on your ticket and get to the airport early enough to fly.