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As a frequent traveller, one of my biggest fears is making a mistake during my booking. I’ll triple check my dates and the names I’ve entered before I confirm. Even after I’ve purchased my tickets, I’ll get paranoid and check again.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be overly cautious of your travel plans. Common booking mistakes can cost you $211.49 on average according to data released by FlightNetwork.com. They looked at 42,000 bookings and came up with 8 mistakes that should be avoided. Some of these mistakes can cost you a small fortune so I’ll be providing some tips on how to avoid them.

Common booking mistakes

Becoming antsy and creating yourself a duplicate booking

The worst feeling is when you find a cheap flight deal, but when you go to confirm, the site locks you out or crashes. Since the fare is so low, you immediately make another booking, but wait, you may have booked twice. In a best-case scenario, you’ll be able to get a refund right away, but that’s not a guarantee. It’s really up to who you booked with to make that call. It’s a safer idea to confirm that the original booking didn’t get processed before you rebook.

Failing to reconfirm your flight with the airline 24 hours prior to departing

Travellers always assume that the airline or booking agency will inform you when there’s a change in your flight. While this is good customer service, it’s not something you should depend on. Flight times change all the time so you need to reconfirm your departure times at least 24 hours before takeoff. If you’re on a connecting flight, you actually want to check a few times before departure just to make that any delay doesn’t conflict with your next flight.

Not realizing that there could be additional charges for special requests

Airline fees are starting to appear for anything. If you’re making any kind of special request, the odds are you’re going to need to pay for them. That being said, sometimes paying for extra legroom might be worth it. If you’re flying with a discount carrier, expect to pay extra for everything.

Not contacting your travel agency as soon as the booking is complete, if there is an issue

Mistakes happen, but if you catch them fast enough (in less than 24 hours), airlines might be more willing to help you out. The most important thing is to make sure the names on your tickets match what’s on your passport. Airlines are very strict about this and making a change later could cost you a small fortune later.

common booking mistakes plane

Not checking or reading important emails after booking

Sounds silly, but you need to check and read the emails that come from the company you booked with. As mentioned above, it could have something to do with the timing of your flights, but it might also have to do with not receiving payment. Make sure you have these companies in your contacts list so the emails don’t end up in your spam folder.

Not realizing the actual cost to change or cancel a flight

The cost of changing your tickets can be absolutely insane. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy a whole new ticket and to just toss your old one in the garbage. Even when airlines do allow you to make a change, it can cost you hundreds of dollars still. If you’ve booked with an agency, they may also charge you a fee or not return your deposit. Sometimes you can’t avoid a change, but what you can do is make sure all your dates and information is right.

Not realizing you need a travel visa to enter (or transit) a particular country

Despite the fact that Canadians have a friendly reputation, we’re still required to get a Visa for many different countries. Depending on the country, you may need to get it in advance. Depending on what country you’re applying for, you can also be denied for a variety of reasons. To avoid this, make sure you have travel insurance that will give you a refund if you’re denied a visa for a valid reason. You’ll also want to apply for your Visa as early as possible.

Not checking expiry dates on passports or the validity period to enter a country

One of my most popular blog posts is how to get an emergency passport. At the beginning, I was shocked at how many people didn’t have their passports up to date but emergencies do happen. Getting a passport on a weekend is nearly impossible so you want to make sure yours isn’t expired. Always keep your passport up to date and apply for the 10-year one since it’ll last you longer.


About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Avatar NZ Muse on August 10, 2016 at 4:17 AM

    Ugh, travel booking mistakes can be EXPENSIVE. Like the time I booked return flights for the wrong date …

    • Avatar Barry Choi on August 10, 2016 at 9:41 AM

      NZ Muse,

      That’s one of my biggest fears. I triple check my names and dates always.

  2. Avatar Ashley on August 10, 2016 at 3:51 PM

    I love my 10 year passport!

    • Avatar Barry Choi on August 10, 2016 at 3:52 PM

      Mine doesn’t expire until next year, I can’t wait til get mine.

  3. Avatar Cdnrissa on August 14, 2016 at 3:15 PM

    “Sounds silly, but you need to check read the emails” –> check and read
    “Despite the fact that Canadians have a friend reputation” –> friendly reputation
    “Not checking expiry dates on passports or the validity period to enter a ocuntry” –> Country
    Proofreading would be good. Other than that, very informative article!

    • Avatar Barry Choi on August 14, 2016 at 3:23 PM


      Thanks for catching those. I have to admit, I wrote and posted this article fast. I ran it through grammarly, but it didn’t catch those. That’s not an excuse as I should have proof read it.

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