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Common Booking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

We all have first and secondhand stories of airport nightmares, whether it be forgetting passports, delays, cancellations, and wrong bookings. Consequently, a majority of Aussies feel a deeply amiss especially with online bookings.

A chance to travel should inspire a positive emotion, not confusion. So here's a few tips on how to avoid the most common booking mistakes.

1. Booking for the wrong flight date or timing 

The Skyscanner Australia study shows that worries about making mistakes with dates and times are among our worst fears. In fact, 42% of us are concerned about booking flights for the wrong times and dates.

We are probably right to be worried too--the survey also shows that more than half of online bookings (55%) have wrong flight dates and times.

Our fears about making mistakes like this, and the consequences that can follow, might account for some of the most popular online search questions surrounding changing details for flights and hotels. These include questions like:

  • ‘How to change a flight date?’
  • ‘Can you change holiday dates once booked?’
  • ‘How much does it cost to change a flight?’

When it comes to getting things right it pays to be careful. Remember that crossing time zones can be confusing, especially when travelling on long haul flights. Sometimes you might ‘lose’ a day, or even gain one as you fly through time zones. So, to avoid mistakes, always triple check connection times, especially on multi-sector flight itineraries.

How to avoid: Create a clear itinerary calendar which shows where you will be each day, and how and when are you going to get there. Then, check your flights and hotels against your itinerary, and get someone else to check too.

2. Making mistakes with your name and other details

The same survey also shows that 18 per cent of us are scared of typing in the wrong passenger details during an online flight booking session.

When you book a flight ticket online you have to type in your name, exactly as it is appears on your passport. That means if your name is Anthony on your passport you shouldn’t type in Tony. If you have a middle name on your passport, include it. If you have typed in your maiden name instead of your married name, which appears on your passport, you might have some explaining to do, most likely to your spouse.

What if my name is misspelled on my plane ticket? In short, if you mess things up, including making spelling errors, you might have to complete a name correction form and pay a fee to get your mistake fixed.

How much does it cost to change your name on an air ticket? Well, Qantas, charges $60 to do this if you booking onto one of its own flights. Things get more complicated if you have booked with one airline and you are travelling on code-share flights operated by other airlines, or you use different airlines for different segments of your flight. This could mean your ticket has to be cancelled and reissued, so as well as paying a service fee you might also have to pay more for your new ticket if your old ‘booking class’ (or access to particular seats for a particular price) is no longer available.

The best thing to do to avoid mistakes with names, including a misspelled name on an airline ticket, is to have your passport in front of you when you book. Check everything, including spellings.

How to avoid: Sometimes airlines will let you get away with minor name errors. Ring the airline to find out if they can simply make a note on your booking that a small error was made.

3. Booking your hotel for the wrong stay dates or number of nights

You’ve travelled across the world and you’ve rocked up to your hotel, exhausted after all that travel, and you find you’ve made a mistake with the dates and you don’t have a room for the night. It’s a horror scenario.

Making mistakes by booking the wrong dates online, or the wrong number of nights, makes 42 per cent of us worried, according to the same study.

As well as running the risk of being left out on the street, you might also fall foul of strict reservation policies. If you fail to turn up, or cancel a hotel room (especially within 24 hours of your stay) you might be out of pocket.

So, to avoid any drama, get that holiday calendar printed up and filled in, and have it in front of you when you book your hotels as well as your flights.

How to avoid: If you have to cancel your hotel room within 24-hours of your stay, contact the hotel directly, and try to move your reservation date a few days into the future instead. The hotel is less likely to charge you a fee for this. Then, cancel your booking before 24-hours of your new date.

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