Nowadays, booking a flight is convenient and affordable thanks to the ability to do so from anywhere at any time using any device. With just a few taps on our phones, we can purchase tickets without the need to compare prices across various agencies and airlines. However, it is also easy to make mistakes when booking flights, some of which can be irreversible or costly to fix. We posted a survey on the Captain Flights Facebook group and Instagram page to find out what are the most common mistakes travelers make when booking flights, and your responses surprised us.

Spelling mistakes in passenger names

The most common mistake when booking a flight is, of course, incorrect spelling of passenger names. Nathan, a community member, told us, “I booked a flight for a friend with her previous last name”. Yaara also had a similar experience, but at least in this story, someone probably had a good time. “I flew with friends to Tenerife. I wrote my boyfriend’s first and last name twice out of excitement, so I had to pay an additional $850 for a new flight, while he received two meals and two seats on each flight.”

Our tip: There are airline companies that will agree to fix a certain number letters, others will change a name for an additional fee, and others that refuse to change even a single letter, even at a fee. So, before you click the purchase button, it’s important to make sure that the letters in the names are exactly as they appear on the passport. It is best to book a flight ticket with your passport in front of you. 

Booking wrong destinations

It seems that many of you also accidentally booked a flight to the wrong destination. “In 2010, I was traveling in Panama in Central America,” said Inbar. “I had to book a flight to New York to return home. I booked a flight, and the evening before I entered to make sure everything was on schedule – and I suddenly realized that I booked a flight from a small city in the US called Panama instead of Panama the country! Fortunately, there was still a ticket available for the original flight.”

Tal, from the Facebook community, also encountered a similar problematic situation in the past. “I booked a ticket from Cancun to San Cristobal in Venezuela instead of San Cristobal in Mexico,” she shared. Our tip to avoid such mistakes is to make sure to check the airport code of the destination, which can be easily done by searching on Google. 

Incorrect flight dates

Another common and particularly frustrating mistake is incorrect flight dates. Eden told us about it and wrote, “We flew to Burma (Myanmar). When we arrived at the airport, I was so excited about the trip and went to buy some things at the duty free and planned to collect them when we returned. When the seller asked for the return flight number, we realized that we had booked tickets for two months after the date we intended.” Again, it is important to double-check the dates before finalizing the booking.

Our tip: Despite the pressure and desire to book the best good price possible, before you proceed with payment, go through all the details, times and dates again to make sure you are buying what you intended.

How to avoid mistakes when booking flights

Eventually, we will all make mistakes and they cannot be avoided completely. Here are some important tips to minimize the chance of it happening to you:

  • Check the validity of your passport before booking. Make sure it’s valid for the minimum amount of time required by your destination (normally 3 or 6 months, depending on the country).
  • Review booking details before confirming payment, including: flight dates and times, passenger names, the destination, and even the direction of the flight.
  • After booking, you will receive a booking confirmation. Review the details  – the earlier you catch the mistake, the better chance you have of saving money.
  • Did you make a mistake? Take a deep breath, contact the travel company or airline and try to make a change or cancellation. Some companies have a 24-hour grace period for changes without additional fees. 
  • Note your local consumer protection laws – some countries enable cancelations within a certain amount of time
  • Pay attention Covid requirements relating to vaccinations, tests and masking requirement. Even now, in 2023, some countries have Covid regulations in place.