What You Need to Know before Booking that Travel Deal

When searching for travel bargains and seat sales, keep in mind that there can often be significant strings attached

Credit: betta design

Many seat sales come with significant strings


f you’ve been eyeing some of those tempting sales on spring and summer travel, you’re probably thinking it’s a good time to book your next vacation.

And while the price may be right, you need to be aware that the conditions surrounding some of these remarkable bargains aren’t always ideal.

Here are some things to consider before you go ahead and book that deal that sounds too good to be true. Sometimes it is.

Travel Deal Conditions

Airline seat sales don’t last as long as they used to, with the average now being about three days. Most deals typically come out at the beginning of the week, so when you’re doing your research, try to focus on flights from Tuesday to Thursday and you’re more likely to see some better deals.

Remember, though, that you might come up against some strict conditions that simply won’t work well for you or your travel companions. The most common ones are restrictions on the days when you can fly, as well as a seven- to 14-day advance purchase requirement.

Unfortunately, the good mood that comes from finding a great deal can be totally ruined when you get to the point of booking and then realize you’re going to be hit with baggage fees of $50 and upwards per bag.

If you have to check your bags, be aware that some airlines charge more if you pay the fee at the airport. So, if you have the option of paying upfront, take it and you’ll likely save at least $10 to $20.

Also, remember that airlines are cracking down on carry-on sizes, so if you think you can get away without checking your bag, think again. To prevent any problems when you arrive at the airport, make sure in advance that your carry-on bags do not exceed a size of 23 by 40 by 55 centimetres — about the size of a small gym bag.

When to Get the Best Travel Deals

You don’t necessarily have to book months in advance to get the best deals. In fact, these days I’m finding that a number of airlines are recycling similar sales over and over again as they try to fill seats.

However, if you procrastinate, you may not find the same deals you did a few months earlier. Since the end of last year, seats have become more scarce and prices more static, so book your ticket sooner rather than later, especially for the busier summer season.

As a general rule of thumb, while some airlines offer last-minute deals to certain points on certain days, for leisure travel it’s a good idea to give yourself a cushion of about a month between booking and the time you plan to travel.

Travel Bargain Hunting Tips

  1. Go where the crowds don’t. Pricier travel products are providing bargains where you wouldn’t expect them, such as in business- and first-class fares and at upscale resorts.

  2. Deals might not only be restricted to accommodation and flights. Look for added bonuses that may be included, like meals, spa services and golf.
  3. Be sure to research the Web or call directly.

  4. Blackout dates for deals may not apply.
  5. Deals could be available 
even during peak seasons, so don’t restrict the dates you search.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.