Advice for booking a flight

Booking a flight in just a few clicks on the Internet: it is possible! But a mistake in your name input, extra fees for checking-in baggage or a pre-ticked insurance can be expensive! Follow our advice to avoid unpleasant surprises during the flight reservation with an airline, an agency or an online platform of reservation.

Advice for booking his or her flight

Before confirming your booking, check your choices carefully because you do not have a 14-day right of withdrawal to cancel your flight booked on the Internet.

  • Compare the offers (meal offered or not, check-in fees online or at the airport, baggage supplement, seat reservation…) between different airlines and between the chosen airline and a reservation platform.
  • Do not be impressed by discount offers or the references to the number of people consulting the same flight and the number of places still available.
  • Check the date of thebooked flight.
  • Have your first name, last name and date of birth been entered correctly? There is usually a charge for any subsequent changes to your booking.
  • Is the check-in of your baggage included in the price of the ticket? In name of the principle of price freedom, airlines may offer baggage check-in as an option.
  • If you book several flight separately, let you enough time to change flight.
  • Ask about your rights! In case of cancellation, delay or unjustified denied boarding by the airline, you are often entitled to compensation.

Be careful about hidden charges on flight tickets

In principle, airlines, just like travel agencies and travel intermediaries that sell flights from the European Union, must specify from the beginning of the reservation process the definitive price (included all taxes) to be paid. But in practice, several hidden charges can increase the price of a plane ticket: cancellation insurance, baggage supplement, check-in at the airport, choice of seat number…

Travel cancellation insurance

Always check if it is not pre-ticked in your reservation. If you do not untick it, you will usuall be charged about fifteen euros and it will then be difficult to get the refund. Also check if you do not have cancellation insurance via your credit card for example.

A consumer who, for non-professional purposes, takes out an insurance contract to supplement a good or service sold by a trader, if he/she can prove that a previous coverage for one of the risks covered by this new contract exists, may cancel this new contract, without charge or penalty, as long as it has not been fully performed or he/she has not called in any coverage. The deadline for termination is fourteen calendar days from the conclusion of the new contract.

According to the recent French law on emergency measures to protect purchasing power, no later than 1 January 2023 the subscriber will be able to terminate the contract without having to justify previous coverage and the deadline is extended to 30 days or even longer, "when the insured benefits from one or more free insurance premiums, this period runs only from the payment of all or part of the first premium".

Read also our articles on "Electronic termination of contracts" and "New cancellation procedures for insurance contracts".

Baggage supplement

Each company has its own rules of luggage transport.

Concerning carry-on luggage, it is free of charge for most airlines but has become a charge for others, it must respect a certain weight and size… Check directly on the website of the airline the size and weight allowed in the cabin, and thus avoid that your baggage ends up in the hold during the boarding, against a surcharge.

Concerning check-in luggage, airlines invoice it more and more often. Do some research! Also, check the allowed weight.

Ban of charges on means of payment

Additional charges for payment by credit card, bank transfer or direct debit in euros are now banned throughout the European Union (Payment Services Directive 2).

Boarding pass printing

Many airlines suggest online boarding. You must then print yourself your boarding pass or save it in your smartphone. Otherwise, the airline may charge you for printing your boarding pass at the airport (around 40€ per ticket).

Choice of seat number

Placement in the plane has become a paying proposition with many airlines. If you are travelling in a group and wish to be seated next to the others, you will certainly have to pay a surcharge for a side-by-side seat number.

What are the taxes on a plane ticket?

In addition to the flight price, there are several air taxes, which vary according to the country or the airport:

  • Airport taxes: only this tax is refundable in case of flight cancellation by the company or yourself,
  • Civil aviation tax,
  • Safety security environment tax,
  • Solidarity tax,
  • Fuel surcharge and safety,
  • Exit tax to be paid in Germany and Austria ("Luftverkehrabgabe").

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.