Tips to Navigate Online Booking

Hi fellow travelers,

R here, thought I’d deviate a bit off the established path of this blog to bring you a post all about the murky underworld that is online booking. With everything online these days,  it pays to be cautious – as I learned the hard way just last night.

I’ll begin with what happened to me:

My best friend is getting married in America at the end of the year, and this little lady over here has been squirelling away money to put towards a trip (working 6 hours in a preschool while doing Uni doesnt exactly pay very well). And so finally, after searching out deals, persistently checking my bank account and being incredibly anti-social (saving all the dollars i could), I finally felt ready to take that huge step and actually buy a ticket. EEEP!

So, with the resolve to part with my hard earned moolahs, I sat in front of a computer and prepared, with my father at hand, to purchase a trip in a flying metal tin can that would take me to my destiny. Or America. Whatever.

So sitting ready to go we began searching – I’d seen a really well priced ticket but then we realised that I’d have to change days to avoid the Thanksgiving rush, and so we began our search a new.

And VOILA, we found an AMAZING deal, not to be missed, OMG how could we walk passed it?? So we clicked select to find out more, put in our details (expecting at least 3 “you sure you want to pay” prompts” in order to see the final amount, and suddenly- money was taken from my account. Too much money. The Bastards.

I started getting really nervous – they hadn’t asked about special meals (which I need because I’m super special), they hadn’t confirmed baggage or anything – they’d just processed the payment and that was it. So my gut (which is usually reliable)  was yelliing “GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE” as loudly as possible and I reviewed. Which brings me to tip 1:

ALWAYS REVIEW YOUR WEBSITE BEFORE YOU PURCHASE ANYTHING: because every single review (bar one) was negative to the point of “they’re a scam” and “do not use them, they constantly deduct money” and “they don’t actually have a deal with airlines, they lie about prices and then leave you high a dry”.

Which brings me to tip 2:

ALWAYS READ UP ON THEIR REFUND POLICY: Thank goodness this website had a four hour full free refund after booking. It had only been 10 minutes, so we jumped online – finally contacted them and organised a refund.

Which brings me to tip 3:

ALWAYS PRINT OFF ALL DOCUMENTATION INCLUDING EMAILS, PRINT SCREENS OF ITINERARIES, RETURNS POLICIES: This way when they question your actions and motives, and you can be like BAM (and the dirt is gone… sorry, couldn’t resist)It keeps all your cards close at hand, and means you can notice things like even though your Itinerary Reciept says NON-REFUNDABLE in scary bold black letters, the website promised a four hour grace window that you could cancel it for full refund and no charge.

So that’s what I did. It’s going to take at least a week to process through (DAMN THEM) meaning that for the moment my travel plans are on hold – I’ve been bruised but not scarred and I am now far more savvy when it comes to booking online.

So to recap:

1. Stick to reputable websites that have good online reputations – generally Websites that are well designed and not bombarded with weird cheap advertisements (you know the ones I mean)

2. Do your research – re: prices, and what added extras might pop up once you hit select – ie a ticket that claims to be all inclusive then added another $90 due to “unexpected taxes”; airlines may charge extra for baggage and what not

3. Read up on their refund policy – always make sure you have a way out that will be relatively easy and won’t do too much damage to your bank account.

4. Print off all documentation and screen shots for future reference.

With these things in mind and a good deal of common sense (which I was clearly lacking – it’s just been one of those days), you should be ready to enjoy your trip hassle free (or as hassle free as travelling, airports, customs, visas, lost baggage, missed flights, and cancellations can be – it’s all part of the fun isn’t it?).

Bon Voyage, Safe travels and Good luck!

x R