Booking flights online

Essential questions to ask when you see a bright, shiny deal

You’ve seen the flight you want and the price is a steal – you’ll have to move fast to lock in that fare. The airline industry is a fast-moving one. The seats that carriers release move fast too and you’re competing with many, many other bargain-minded travellers to secure that cheap flight. While displays the latest fares, prices can change without warning.

When a fare catches your eye, ask yourself the following questions:

Does the price include tax? If not, how much extra will I pay?

All our flight prices should include taxes. If you discover an agent has not included taxes, please report it to us by clicking here.

Does the price include a credit-card charge? If so, how much extra will I pay?

Charging a supplement for processing a credit card transaction is perfectly legal. Many flight and holiday companies will charge about 2.5 per cent if you pay with a credit card.

What are the restrictions?

In general, the rule is: the cheaper the fare, the greater the number of restrictions. These will include no changes to the booked itinerary, no refunds and no name changes.

What are the penalties for cancelling my ticket?

On the lowest fares, the cancellation charge may be 100 per cent, even if you cancel your ticket well in advance.

What route is the airline taking, and are there any stops?

There can be some surprises here, even on short routes. A “direct flight” doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t any stops. It means only that you don’t have to change planes.

Which airline will I be flying with?

Make sure of an airline’s reputation for safety, punctuality, comfort and level of in-flight service.

How far away from my destination is the airport I’m flying to?

Many of the airports served by the low-cost airlines are a long way from their associated cities. Frankfurt Hahn, served by Ryanair, is the famous example. It’s 124km from Central Frankfurt. Getting into town from the airport can be costly.

Where am I flying from? Time of flights?

Getting to Luton or Gatwick will be more expensive than getting to Heathrow or London City. Even if you are flying from an airport that’s well served by buses and trains, you should consider the time of the flight. Early-morning or late-evening flights are generally cheaper, but having to take a taxi to get there might cancel out the savings.

Bonding – how can I tell if my flight or holiday is protected?

If you have an Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing receipt (an ATOL), your flight or holiday is covered. Search the CAA website ( to ensure that the company you are booking with holds an ATOL. On payment of any amount of money, the deposit or full price, the company should issue an ATOL Receipt. When you’ve paid in full you should receive an ATOL Confirmation Invoice.

I’m booking direct with the airline. Is my flight protected?

Direct bookings are not ATOL protected, but there are a couple of ways to insure yourself. Book with a credit card. Under the terms of the Consumer Credit Act, your money is protected if you’ve spent £100 or more on your flight. Take out travel insurance that will cover you against insolvency.


If you feel that any agent has misled you about prices, let us know via our Feedback page. In particular, let us know about any obvious instances of “Bait and Switch” – the practice of offering unrealistic low fares in the hope of luring the customer into buying a more expensive ticket. Cheapflights takes complaints very seriously and will always follow them up.

Further Information

For a more in-depth look at your rights as an air transport user, check out the guidelines by the Air Transport Users Council.


(Featured image: Carson Ting)

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