JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Heading into the busy travel season, many will turn to internet sites to book their travel plans. The reasons are obvious: to save money and to do it themselves. But before you hit the "book now" button, there are things to avoid so the travel plans do not become travel trouble.
1) Double check for typos. A small mistake such as misspelling your name can keep you grounded. Your ticket must match the information on your government-issued ID or your ticket will not be accepted.
2) Double check your travel dates when booking online. You may end up buying airline tickets for the wrong dates, the seats may be sold out when you try to re-book and the cost of changing could be costly.
3) Don't wait until the last minute to look for a bargain. You need to book your travel plans 14- to- 21 days ahead. Also, don't hesitate to compare fares with the different online sites.
4) It is okay to sign up for fare alerts. Many airline sites and the travel sites like Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity allow you to sign up to be notified about deals on specific routes.
5) If you have the opportunity to buy your tickets directly from the airline's website, do it. Some airlines will charge a stiff fee to change a ticket that was booked by a third party.
Kim Sonderman has been in the travel industry 34 years and now works at MTS travel.
Sonderman said don't overlook the importance of travel insurance as you plan.
"The best time to buy it is before you need it," she said.
Sonderman said the insurance should tell you what's covered and what's not covered.
"It would be specific to weather cancellation," said Sonderman.
As a travel agent she hardly recommends to her clients using an online travel site. She believes the consumer is best served if there is someone to advocate their position.
Sonderman said the downside to online travel sites for the consumer is if there's a problem, most communications are via email, unless the problem is escalated to a conflict resolution unit.
She also believes that every traveler should know their rights. The FAA has published "Fly-Rights A Consumer Guide to Travel" which can be read here:
First Coast News