Book an Airline Ticket

Booking an airline ticket can seem complicated when there are so many websites, airlines and travel agents to choose from. Flight prices also fluctuate all the time, making the booking process even more complicated. But with some research and flexibility, you’ll be able to book your next airline ticket seamlessly.


Researching Your Trip

  1. Decide where you are going. Depending on your trip, you may have some flexibility in terms of your exact location. Do some research to find the perfect destination for you.
    • For example, if you want to visit the Caribbean, there are over 28 island nations and 7000 individual islands to choose from.
    • If your destination is fixed, you may still be able to research secondary airports. For example, if you are visiting your relatives in San Francisco, you could also look at flying into the nearby Oakland Airport.[1]
  2. Decide when you are going. With your fellow travellers, decide when you are going on your trip and for how long. The more flexible you are with your dates, the easier it will be to find a deal.[2]
    • If your dates are not flexible or if your trip is coming up very soon, it’s best to book as soon as possible. This is especially important if you are flying during a popular period, like Thanksgiving.[3]
  3. Check if you need visas or vaccinations. Some international destinations will require visitors to have special visas to come to their country or get vaccinations ahead of time. Include this in your research so you have time to make arrangements, apply for any visas and schedule travel vaccination appointments.
    • For the most up to date information, visit your country's travel advisory such as for Canadians or for Americans.
  4. Consider who and what you’re traveling with. If you’re traveling with an infant, depending on the flight carrier, you may not need to buy a separate seat for the child. However, traveling with a baby may also mean that you will need to pack extra things like a diaper bag, playpen or stroller.

Booking an Airline Ticket Online

  1. Look for flights in advance. The best time to book a domestic flight is between 112 and 21 days before you depart to secure the lowest fare. 54 days before is considered the perfect time. However, even booking 54 days before your trip is not guaranteed to get you the lowest fare.[4]
    • If you are booking an international plane ticket, you should book as far in advance as possible, especially if your destination is smaller or only has one nearby airport.[3]
    • If you are flying to a popular destination during a popular time, such as Florida during Spring Break, you should book as far in advance as possible. Because this flight is popular, it is unlikely that the fare will be lowered.[3]
  2. Check airfare deal websites. Before booking, scan an airfare deal website, like Airfare Watch Dog, for sales. This is especially helpful if your destination or trip dates are flexible so you can take advantage of any deals.
    • Airlines sometimes share sales with their customers through their websites or newsletters. You can subscribe to the newsletters of your top airlines or visit their sites to search for deals.
  3. Enter your trip details on an aggregator site. Visit an aggregator website that searches multiple airlines, like SkyScanner, Momondo or GoogleFlights, and enter your trip information. The website will be able to show you lots of flight options for your requested destination and dates that you can sort by price, airline or length of trip.[5]
    • Many aggregator sites will allow you to enter multiple destinations and search flights on multiple dates. This will help you find the best deal if your trip is flexible.
    • If you have time, check a few aggregator websites. Some sites may advertise different prices so it’s good to check around and ensure you’re getting the best deal.[1]
  4. Choose how many stops you want to make. Many flights, especially to far away locations, will require you to make stopovers at airports along the way. Sometimes these will involve changing planes and going through security again. As you look at flights, remember to keep in mind how many stops you are comfortable making. Also check how long and what time of day the stops are.
    • You may be able to find a cheaper flight if you're comfortable adding an extra stopover. However, it's important to take into account if the length and time of the stopover is worth the money you will save.
  5. Click through to the airline’s website. Once you have found the best trip, select it on the aggregator ste and move to the airline’s direct website to book your tickets. Some aggregators allow you to book the ticket through their website, but there may be an additional service fee.[2]
  6. Choose your seat. Many airlines will allow you to choose your seat at your time of booking. Ensure you choose seats for all of the passengers that you're booking airline tickets for. You can select to sit together, if there is space for your party, and whether you want an aisle, window or middle seat. You may also be able to select seat upgrades, like extra legroom, for an additional cost.
    • If you're airline does not allow you to select your seat at the time of booking, you may be able to do it when you check in. If you have a specific seat preference or need to sit with your travel companions, for example if you're traveling with a child, call your airline to see how you can make arrangements ahead of time.
  7. Choose to make it a package deal or not. Towards the end of the booking process, your airline may suggest add-ons that you can book, such as hotels or car rentals. You can add these at the time of booking or book them separately from your airline ticket.
    • Before choosing an add-on like a hotel stay or car rental, you should do some research online and ensure your airline is offering you a good deal.
  8. Request special accommodations. If you require any special accommodations for your flight, such as a wheelchair, request these at the time of booking. If you are not prompted to enter this information during your online booking, call your airline directly.
    • Other special accommodations may include traveling with service animals, medical concerns and dietary restrictions.
  9. Choose to add insurance or not. During the booking process, you may also be prompted to add insurance. Read the fine print and decide whether or not your flight and trip require insurance.
    • You might be covered by insurance through your work, healthcare or credit card. It's a good idea to look into these options and compare costs if you want to add insurance coverage for your trip.
  10. Book your ticket! On the airline’s website, confirm that all of your trip information is correct. Then follow the prompts to enter your personal and payment information to finish booking your tickets. You may also need the personal information of anyone else flying with you.
  11. Receive your confirmation and receipt. After booking, your receipt and ticket confirmation should be emailed to you. If you don’t receive this within a few hours of booking, contact your airline.

Booking an Airline Ticket with a Travel Agent

  1. Collect all of your trip information. From your research, establish your trip destination and dates, even if these are flexible. Also make sure you have your payment information and the personal information for yourself and your fellow travellers on hand. For example, you may need to know all of the travellers’ birthdates and passport numbers.
  2. Find a reputable travel agent. Ask your friends and family for recommendations if you haven’t worked with a travel agent before. If you can’t get a personal recommendation, search online for a travel agency with good reviews.[3]
  3. Meet with your travel agent in person or over the phone. Depending on the travel agency, you may be able to go in-person or you may work with someone over the phone. Ensure your travel agent is knowledgeable, friendly and service-oriented. They should be able to answer all of your questions and have experience booking similar trips to the one you want to go on.
  4. Give your travel agent your trip information. Provide your travel agent with the destination and dates of your trip. If you are flexible with nearby destinations, multiple stopovers or similar dates, ensure you tell your travel agent that information.
    • Also let your travel agent know about your preferences and any required accommodations. You can tell them your seating preference, such as aisle or window, if you need special accommodations, like a wheelchair, if you're interested in purchasing add-ons, like hotel stays and car rentals, and if you need to purchase insurance.
  5. Book your ticket! After receiving your information, your travel agent will present you with some flight options for your trip. Select the best option for you and continue speaking with your travel agent to finish booking your airline tickets. The agent will need your personal and payment information.
  6. Receive your receipt and confirmation. Your travel agent will likely choose to email you your receipt and confirmation of your airline ticket purchase. If you don’t receive an email shortly after booking, call your travel agent. You may also be able to request your receipt and confirmation in hard copy if you don’t have access to email.



  • If you are part of a frequent flyer program, check your program for flight deals or other ways to book cheaper airline tickets.
  • If you need assistance when flying, such as a wheelchair, make sure to request this at the time of booking. If you forget to request it while booking your ticket, call your travel agent or airline as soon as possible.
  • You may also be able to note meal preferences at the time of booking if your airline provides meals on your flight. If you have dietary restrictions, such as allergies, ensure you include that in your meal request.


  • No one can 100% accurately predict when a flight is going to go on sale. While it might be tempting to wait for a flight sale, you should book as early as possible if your destination and dates are fixed. Waiting until the last minute will cost you more.[5]
  • Make sure to consider layover times when choosing your flight. Sometimes, cheaper flights involve long layovers at airports that may be difficult if you’re travelling with a child or elderly person.
  • If you prefer to work with a travel agent, try to do some research online beforehand. It’s best to get an idea of how much flights to your destination cost to make sure your travel agent is getting you the best deal.
  • Read over your airline’s policy for canceling, transferring or changing an airline ticket before booking. If you need to postpone or cancel your trip for any reason, you should know how that will affect your plane ticket. You may also want to look into getting travel insurance.

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