You can get some great deals when making your travel plans online. But be cautious. And use the following guidelines:
· Never book anything through a website unless you can get a telephone number for that firm. Emails can be deleted or lost without being read, so it’s always safer to speak with a real person. Also be sure to write down the company’s phone number and take it with you when you travel since you probably won’t have Internet access at an airport or hotel.
· Pay by credit card so you’ll have the chance to cancel or dispute the charges. And be careful of sites that make you pay for a trip more than 60 days in advance. Most credit card companies will only allow you to dispute a charge within 60 days. By agreeing to pay for something you won’t get for more than two months, you’re effectively waiving your right to dispute that charge later.
· Read the fine print. Make sure the cheap airfare you’re getting won’t wind up costing you extra in additional fees or service charges. Also, look for terms such as “blackout dates” and “subject to availability.” These terms often mean you won’t be able to travel on the dates you want.
· For travel packages, print out all cancellation and refund policies; itineraries and receipts; the exact names of hotels, airlines, airports, restaurants, and rental car agencies the package includes. Once the fare on a trip expires, the webpage that describes it usually does, too.
· Call to verify your reservations. Just because you have a confirmation number or itinerary does not mean you have a seat or a room.
· Know the agency’s guarantee, plan for compensation or travel alternatives if a flight is delayed or cancelled.
· Watch out for charter flights. Charter flights operate under different rules than traditional airlines. A charter company can legally cancel flights, change schedules, or delay flights for up to 48 hours without compensation or alternative transportation arrangements.
· Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.