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Top 10 most common mistakes made by travellers

Travelers check in at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Travelers check in at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Natasha Pace/Global News

EDMONTON — Whether it’s booking a flight to the wrong airport or showing up to the airport on the wrong day, travel mistakes are more common than some might think.

“One of the most budget-busting, stress-inducing experiences in travel is making a mistake with your booking and not realizing it until it’s too late,” said Neil Bhapkar, chief marketing officer at Flight Network.

“Booking mistakes can really ruin a trip – or even worse, prevent one from happening.”

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In hopes of educating people on important travel factors, travel experts at FlightNetwork.com recently analysed more than 40,000 flight bookings to find out the most common mistakes travellers make when booking flights.

Not checking passport expiry dates

The number one mistake was forgetting to check passport expiry dates. Travel experts say this is one of the first things people should do before planning a holiday. If the expiration date has passed, you will be denied boarding, which could lead to costly changes or even travel cancellations.

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Most passports expire every five years, although recent changes now allow for passports with a 10-year validation period. And be careful, some countries require you to have a passport validity of up to six months from the last leg of your itinerary.

Entering incorrect names

Entering incorrect names into online booking sites was a close second in the research. Experts say often times people will book tickets with their common names, rather than legal names. By making a booking with anything other than your legal name, there’s a good chance you’ll have difficulty checking in at the airport.

Not checking required travel documents

Passports aren’t the only thing people should check before making travel plans. If you don’t have proper documentation you’ll likely be denied boarding at the airport. Some travel Visas take months to receive, so experts recommend checking with the destination country to find out what documents are required. Remember to check with the consulate general of any transiting countries, as well.

Not checking airline baggage fees

It’s becoming common practice for airlines to charge baggage fees, even on the first piece of checked luggage. And depending on how much luggage you’re bringing, the fees for checking bags and overweight luggage can be costly. Experts recommend checking the fees in advance and packing smart. And remember the journey home, too, as you might be inclined to buy a few souvenirs, right?

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READ MORE: Here’s how much WestJet, Air Canada will rake in from baggage fees

Showing up to the airport at the wrong time/date

When it comes to travelling almost nothing is worse than missing your flight, and this means you’ll have to fork over the money for a pricey last-minute ticket or head home disappointed. Experts recommend making sure you have the a.m./p.m. and 24-hour clock down pat. And remember, for many international flights, companies require travellers to be at the airport three hours prior to departure.

Entering the wrong credit card expiry date

It may not sound like a big deal, but if your credit card expiration date is incorrectly entered, the transaction will not go through and you run the risk of losing your booking. Those seats are then released and could quickly get snapped up by another traveller. Double check all information before clicking “purchase,” experts say.

Booking the wrong city

It might sound hard to believe, but some people have ended up in the wrong city. When booking a flight, don’t just check the city name; it’s important to also verify the name of the country. Otherwise you could end up in Sydney, Nova Scotia instead of Sydney, Australia – or vice versa.

Not booking in time

Flight Network experts say most travellers don’t realize that the longer you wait to purchase your flight, the more likely it is to go up in price. Airlines sell seats in blocks, with the cheapest seats released first. The closer you get to the departure date, the more the seats are going to cost, according to the Flight Network.

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Ignoring terms and conditions

Terms and conditions can be long, wordy and frankly, boring. The fine print can include very important details, including cancellation fees, baggage fees and no-show policies. The typical cost to change or cancel a flight in Canada is $250, while some can charge upwards of $600 for specific changes. Take the time to read through the terms and conditions, experts recommend.

Opting out of travel insurance

While it may seem like an added expense on top of an already pricey trip, travel insurance can save you thousands of dollars if you’re injured while out of the country. Experts recommend purchasing a travel insurance package before you go, especially for international travel. It’s also important to check any existing insurance policies, though, as your employer may cover travel insurance.