Tips For Booking (International) Flights
It is barely 4pm as I am typing this and the sun is nowhere to be seen. Short days, cold weather and gray skies are generally a key-player in my need to escape to a warm and sunny place, far far away. With the festive season comes the holiday season, and for many that means booking flights to a destination that promises a welcome change of scenery. In my case, that means I currently have 36 tabs simultaneously open with all sorts of Winter holiday destinations. From Cyprus to the Caribbean and Oman. But how to choose? In all honesty, we usually end up checking the flights first and then pick our final destination based on the most convenient (and of course, affordable) flight options.
Having never booked a single trip through a travel agent, I have developed quite a bit of pro-game for said process. In Partnership with KLM and Air France, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and sit down for a flight-related Q&A. For the longest time, I have wanted to share some of my favorite tips for booking flights with you, and having access to the insider knowledge of an airline like KLM that is celebrating their 100-year anniversary this year, was the perfect occasion to finally do so.
How to book international flights?
- How many days/weeks/months in advance should you ideally book a flight?
Contrary to rumors that might be in circulation, there is no golden rule here. However, the airlines clearly state that the sooner the better – especially if you would like to travel in peak season ( July/ August, around Easter or Christmas). Insider Tip: it is best to follow the airline’s social media for amazing offers. For example, @KLM is really active on social media and they always advertise their promotions to their followers first.
- What days are the best (and most affordable) travel days?
Can really change per destinations ( no golden rule) but from my personal experience, Monday mornings, Friday evenings and Saturdays are a bit more expensive. If you are not bound to kids’ vacations or fixed dates, keeping this in mind may provide cheaper options.
- What information is required to book an international flight?
In order to book an international flight, name as written in the passport or travel document, date of birth, passport details and contact information (such as email address) are required. Also, if you partake in a loyalty program, for example “Flying Blue”, you definitely want to add your loyalty number. Even though miles can be redeemed post-flight, I personally always make sure to add it during the booking process, since your status may come with certain benefits (ie. lounge access). This way, the status is noted on the ticket and you won’t have to worry about the miles afterwards.
- Is it better to book directly through an airline or to use search engines?
For an overview of which airlines service a certain destination, I prefer a search engine (ie. Google Flights), but for the final booking, I always go back to the official website of the airline I want to book with. This is just personal preference, but unfortunately, I have had so many negative experiences with online booking agents (hidden fees, flights changed, bookings that didn’t go through), that now I like to play it safe. When you book directly through the website of an airline, it is also much easier to contact their customer service, should you want additional information, upgrades or need to make changes afterwards.
- How many destinations does KLM/Air France cover?
Air France-KLM is the leading Group in terms of international traffic on departure from Europe. It offers its customers access to a network covering 314 destinations in 116 countries thanks to Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Transavia.
- Fly responsibly! How can I minimize the CO2 emission my international flights create?
“Yes, we are an airline and we realise aviation is far from sustainable today, even if we have been – and are – working hard to improve every aspect of our business. We are proud to have led the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 12 years and have been in the top 3 for 14 years in a row. But we need to do more. And we cannot do it alone. We have set ourselves the objective to lead the industry in delivering the economic and social value of network aviation in a sustainable way, by making our products and processes even more sustainable. That is why we kindly invite all parties to join us, and the many KLM passengers who have already supported us in our pursuit, by compensating their CO2 footprint with our CO2ZERO service.”
For almost ten years, KLM has been offering a simple service to compensate for your personal share of the CO2 emissions of your flight. Their CO2ZERO service makes it possible to travel in a CO2-neutral way and is available as you book or before the flight via MyTrip on the KLM website or in the KLM app. Since 2017, KLM has invested in growing 500 hectares of tropical forest with contributions from passengers. The CO2 reduction projects are sustainably certified by Gold Standard and they also promote the local workforce.
- Why are miles worth collecting?
Even though it may look like we splurge on business class often, this is not the case at all. In fact, I have never purchased a regular business class ticket in my life. Due to the fact that both Mike and I travel a lot, we started collecting miles years ago. We usually purchase regular economy or economy comfort tickets and then try to upgrade with miles whenever it makes sense (ie. long international flights or travel times that include night times).
Earning Miles is as easy as taking a flight on Air France, KLM Transavia, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM, SkyTeam, or other airline partners. You can also earn Miles by staying in a hotel or renting a car with one of our partners, or on daily expenses when you pay with a partner credit card. Rack up even more Miles from a wide variety of lifestyle and retail partners.
pro tip: although sticking with one loyalty program is a good way to rack up miles quicker, it is not necessary to stick with one airline. Flying Blue, for example, has 37 airline partners.
Anything else you’d like to know? Do you Know Any tips for booking flights? I’d Love to Know, Simply leave a comment below!
*disclaimer: our round-trip flights to LAX were kindly provided by KLM/air france.