In case you’ve never booked one or are just confused about the process, I’m going to give a quick explanation on how to book your ticket, and once you have it booked, how to understand what it says.
Ordering your ticket
Personally, I always use Expedia.com to buy my tickets. It’s very easy and I’ve never had trouble with them so far!
You can bundle your trip with a hotel or something, but I’ve always just done ticket purchases because I stay with friends and have never needed a hotel! (I just picked a random location and date for this screencap)
You have roundtrip, one way, and multiple destinations. Roundtrip is a single ticket you buy that takes you to your destination, and then takes you back once your visit is up (however long you selected on the page above); One Way is a single ticket that you buy to take you to your destination. You will have to buy a return ticket separately in this case and it will cost you lots more money. Multiple Destinations is if you are flying somewhere else after you are done at your first destination. For example, when I went to Canada the first time, I flew to Ontario, and then I flew to Quebec after a week and stayed there for the rest of my trip.
You will select your departure airport, your destination, departure date, return date, and how many adults/children are flying. Then you search!
Choosing a flight
Things to consider when choosing your flight:
Departure times: you probably don’t want to get up and leave at 4am in the morning (I’ve been there). Choose a time that it convenient for you if at all possible. Pay attention to the time on your return trip as well! The times on the screencap are probably a bit confusing because there is a big timezone difference and this accounts for that! For example, the first one “5:25pm to 4:15pm” means you will depart for your trip at 5:25pm YOUR time, and arrive at 4:15pm in your destination’s timezone. It can get a bit tricky sometimes!
Stops: As you can see, you can filter the results based on what airlines, times, etc that you want. You also might want to consider the number of layovers! If you really don’t want to transfer between 2 different airports in the middle of your flight, pick one that only has a single layover!
Airline: you may want to research your airline options to choose the one with the best reviews. You want your flight to go smoothly, so it’s a good idea to avoid airlines with a bad reputation that will mess things up for you. It probably doesn’t matter too much, just go with the one you feel most comfortable with!
Price: obviously you want to go with the cheapest, but make sure to consider other factors that might be more important to you.
Once you select your price, if you have the Round Trip option, it will ask you to select a return flight. This usually won’t cost you any more money. Just pick one that has a convenient time for you!
The rest is pretty self-explanatory, you will have to enter all your personal information. IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE YOUR NAME YOU PUT FOR THE TICKET IS THE SAME AS THE ONE ON YOUR PASSPORT/ID, OTHERWISE THEY WON’T LET YOU BOARD. After you enter your info, you will have to pay for your flight with credit/debit card. Then you confirm and it is done!
You will get a confirmation Email with your flight information, which looks like this:
(I obviously decorated it a little bit to highlight parts)
The Email form will show you the basic information about your flights including:
-Departure and Return times
-Flight number (just below the boarding times). Pay attention to this number because it also changes, and knowing it will enable you to find your flight on the departure screens and will help you find your gate and everything. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial to know your flight number!!
-Seat #s (sometimes these won’t be told to you until you are at the airport! You will have to check in with the flight attendant before boarding)
-The Terminal your flight will be at (For example, in Dallas, TX airport I will be going to Terminal D.) The terminal is just a section of the airport and each terminal will have several gates where different planes are departing.
*You will also have a Gate # but you will usually find that out at the airport. Just ask the employees at the airport or look at the ticket / your boarding pass*
EVERYTHING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE! PLEASE KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR EMAILS AND KEEP UP TO DATE AT THE AIRPORT IN CASE GATE OR FLIGHT TIMES CHANGE
-Sometimes airports are really big and scary. The Atlanta, GA airport has its own subway train that takes you between terminals. Don’t be overwhelmed, just look at the maps and follow signs or ask people if you’re not sure!
-KEEP YOUR PASSPORT/ID/BOARDING PASSES WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES
-Get to your airport in plenty of time before the departure (this obviously can’t be helped with layover flights, but if you do miss your layover flight due to delays on the first one, the airline will help you with all that and fix it! Same if your flight is cancelled for some reason.) Walk around a little bit, FIND YOUR TERMINAL/GATE FIRST, and then if you have extra time you can walk around and occupy yourself before your flight.
-KEEP AN EYE ON THE DEPARTURE SCREENS. Sometimes flight times change or are cancelled. There will be some sort of screen at your gate you can watch, and of course the flight attendants will tell you if something has been disrupted. Departure screens usually include gates and terminals as well, in case you aren’t sure where to go.
-ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT!
I’m still awkward at the airports, honestly, but just ask for help and look at all the maps and signs and you will be able to find your way around just fine. Once you get on your plane you will feel super great for managing and getting through it!
If you still have any questions, just ask me in the comments!