the plane ticket

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Booking a plane ticket: Everything you need to know.

The musical group The Box Tops, in 1967, said in the song The Letter: “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain’t got time to take a fast train.” The process of issuing a plane ticket for the singer sounds quite simple since, according to the lyrics, someone else will only give it to him. But perhaps we need some explanation.


Before start planning the trip, we must first be able to travel.


Before purchasing a ticket, we must check what travel documents we need for that destination. For many destinations, the ID card is enough when, in other cases, a valid passport is required, with an expiration date of at least 3 or 6 months after our scheduled return. In other countries, we can only travel if we have already issued a return ticket.

Also, depending on the country we want to visit, we may need a visa or specific medical tests and vaccines.

For more information, we search the internet with the precise details of the country of departure and arrival and contact the embassy or the relevant public services.


If we have stitches, if we have had a tooth extracted, or we have a recent fracture and plaster, it is better to postpone it for a few days, while if we have donated blood or dived, then we should not fly for the next 24 or 48 hours, depending on the depth of the dive.

In the case of pregnancy, depending on the stage and type of pregnancy, we are allowed to travel freely (in the first months), only with a medical recommendation letter (in the last months) or not at all (in the final weeks). Also, newborns should not travel in the first days after birth except for health reasons.

Then, when using special medical equipment, like a portable oxygen compressor, we must declare it when issuing the ticket and follow specific procedures to travel.

No need to mention that in case of an infectious disease, we should not travel until we recover and for some time afterwards, as we would put all passengers at risk and probably not even be allowed into the cabin.

Finally, even if we have purchased the ticket and passed the airport checks, if we arrive on the plane intoxicated or with worrying signs of disordered behaviour, we may be banned from travelling and have to be disembarked from the cabin.

If there is something that makes us wonder if it is a good idea to travel by air, then we read the information and terms (the fine print) of the airline on the internet, we contact customer service by phone, and if it is a medical issue, we ask with our doctor.

3. AGE

Another major factor is the identity of the traveller. If we plan to travel with our child, we must get informed about the travel documents of minors. Additional documentation and solemn declarations are needed if the child travels with only one of the two guardians or with someone other than them, for example, grandparents.

When we wish the child to travel unaccompanied, we must first refer to the government page or embassy of that country to see the documents and conditions of entry of a minor and then to the information of the specific airline to find the details of this trip. Some companies accept children over four years old to travel unaccompanied after contacting the airline. A crew member takes responsibility for the child on an extra charge for the service. Other airlines do not accept any unaccompanied passengers under the age of 16.

Extra info for parents, infants up to two years old travel for free.


Some airlines accept pets on flights, while others only accept assistance animals, such as drivers for blind or deaf people. We check the required health certificates of the animal and the terms of the company to be able to travel with our pet. We also check the cost of the procedure as it is usually very high.

Where will we book the ticket?

There are three ways to get our ticket.

The first way is to contact a travel agency which, with an extra charge, will issue us the ticket and then undertake to inform us of any delay or change that may occur in our flight.

The second way is to contact the airline call centre or the ticket office inside the airport area.

The third way is to do the procedure ourselves online. We only need our passport or ID card and a bank card.

If we want to fly with a specific airline, we visit the official web page of the airline and book it from there.

 If we do not have a preferred company, we can get a better price and more routes by choosing a flight search platform like Skyscanner. This platform, with no commission, compares all the companies that operate the flight of our choice and presents us with all the results. 

When should we buy the ticket?

In general, the earlier we book a ticket, the better. Usually, the best period is booking our ticket 6 to 3 weeks in advance, again though there is a rare case of seeing the price drop a few days before the flight. Most of the time, the price goes up a lot if we leave it for the last minute or even worse, there may be no more seats available, so we better not take that risk. In Skyscanner, we can select a route and activate the notification setting to let us know when the fare price drops.

How do we get a ticket?

Going to Google, we type Skyscanner or the airline’s name, for example, Ryanair. We enter the official site and complete the following Search Criteria.

Whether we choose Skyscanner, another platform or the official airline page, the process is the same. Let’s see how it works.

1. One Way or Round Trip

The first choice is the type of ticket. One direction or one way, if we want to travel somewhere without caring or when we do not know the return date. Roundtrip or with a return, if we wish to book our return ticket at once and at a better price than if booking it separately or multiple directions if we want to combine destinations, travelling first to one place, then somewhere else, and in the end we may return to our starting point.

Select the type of our trip and fill in the details of departure and arrival with the city name or international airport code we are interested in. We have to pay extra attention, especially when several airports are nearby. For example, if we select London, we will be presented with the options London – Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted. Sometimes, we may not be interested in any particular airport, only in the city. But we look at the distance and the cost of travel from there to the city centre or the hotel, because they can have a big difference, and in the end exceed the difference in the cost of the ticket to another airport in the same city.

Before finalizing the booking, we check that the specific airports of our preference are selected.

2. Dates

The next question is about travel dates and flight times. When we wish to travel on specific dates, we cannot do anything for a better price apart from comparing companies (we compare easily via But if we are a little more flexible regarding the time, we also look a day before or one day after our scheduled departure day and find the best price. The tickets and the hotels are more expensive at the weekend and cheaper on weekdays. There is also a big difference in flight times. Very early morning or evening itineraries have a lower price, while it increases during peak hours.

3. Direct – Transit flights

The next option is the type of itinerary. Direct or transit? If we want to save time, we choose a direct route. We board the plane in Rome, and after a couple of hours, we get off in Budapest. However, it is possible to prefer a connecting flight, i.e. to start from Rome, land in Athens, and after spending a few hours inside the airport, board another plane now heading to Budapest. In this case, the ticket price decreases, but obviously, the duration increases. Apart from the issue of perhaps the best price, this option is a lifesaver in case we want to travel somewhere on a specific day, with no direct flights. If we choose this scenario, we must be sure that the time difference between flights is at least 3 hours. So, we have time to go through the airport controls again, or if our flight has a delay and we miss the next one, the airline undertakes to change our ticket for free for the next one. When booking a transit flight, we should look for this detail on the website of this specific company, mainly when the next flight is to be operated by another airline.

4. Ticket Classes

There is a choice of economy, business (business) or first class, depending on the company. In the first case, the ticket is cheaper. In other cases, the seats are more comfortable, with a separate space at the front of the aircraft and offer more variety in food and service. On low-cost airlines, the travel classes have given their place to the type of boarding (priority or not) and mainly concern baggage, without implying a separate space in the cabin.

5. Number of Passengers

We fill in the number of passengers. If we travel with another person, better booking all the tickets together. Otherwise, if we issue one first and then repeat the process for the other, the price will be higher each time.



Having filled in the cities, dates of our trip and the number of passengers, we select the search flights option and see the results.

Some destinations have multiple itineraries within the same day, with different prices depending on the time. Others may be no flight on that date, so we have to look a day before or after or find a connecting itinerary.

We observe the departure and arrival airport, the itinerary times, if it is a direct flight or with a connection, the time between connecting flights, select our preferences and press the confirm button. 

At this point, if we choose the search platform, Skyscanner presents us with the operators of the itinerary. Some providers are intermediaries – travel agencies, we choose the airline directly (for example, Ryanair), and Skyscanner takes us to the airline’s official site for the following ticket options.

Ticket Types

The cheapest ticket is the standard or value ticket which does not has an option for changes and includes a piece of small luggage, a backpack, a bag or a gym bag that fits under the front seat and dimensions approximately 40x20x25 cm.

This baggage is often enough if we travel for a few days, provided that we do not intend to carry a lot of liquids.

The only liquids and sprays (deodorants, shampoos, perfumes, toothpaste, etc.) that we can take with us should be in a bottle or tube of a maximum of 100 ml. All the packages should fit in a transparent bag measuring 20 x 20 cm.

If we choose this ticket and change our minds later, we can upgrade or add more baggage at an additional cost.

The next category is the regular or standar plus ticket at a higher price, depending on the company. It includes speedy boarding and, very importantly, one extra suitcase in the cabin measuring approximately 45x35x20 cm, depending on each company policy. So we can travel with a bag or backpack and one more piece of luggage to carry on the plane.

Finally, there is the flexi or flexi plus ticket, with a more expensive fee, which allows us to change the date of our flights and a 20kg suitcase placed in the luggage compartment of the aircraft without any restrictions on the number of liquids we will put in our luggage.


In addition to the ticket type that we have selected, we can now or in the last hours before our flight add additional baggage, musical instruments or sports equipment.

There are two types of baggage. The first category concerns the cabin bags, and the second is the hold-bags or drop-off bags.

1. Cabin Bag

These are the luggage that we will take with us in the cabin and can be a small bag (a backpack or gym bag) that fits under our front seat and dimensions about 40x20x25 cm, or a cabin suitcase with dimensions of about 45x35x20 cm and a maximum weight of 10 kg, depending on the policy of each company.

The option to take our luggage with us in the cabin first limits us to the number of liquids we will carry with us on the trip. The only liquids, creams and sprays that we can pass through the control to the boarding gate should be in a bottle or tube of a maximum of 100 ml when all together, should fit in a transparent bag measuring 20 x 20 cm.

After passing the check, we can buy shampoo, water, sunscreen, wine and anything else we need from the shops before the boarding gate. Or else we can buy them when we arrive at the place we are travelling to.

There are also some forbidden items in the cabin, such as sharp tools, swords and knives. If we want to go archery, our equipment will travel to a separate compartment as checked-in baggage.

Then, if we choose to take our suitcase to the cabin, we should be able to carry it to the plane, lift it up and down the stairs and take it to the locker above our seat. If we travel with children or have weak arms, this may make it difficult for us.

On the other hand, having our belongings with us in the cabin saves us a lot of time. We can arrive at the airport about 1.5 hours before the departure and go straight to the gate. Then, arriving at our destination, we leave the airport faster, without waiting for the luggage to get offloaded.

Finally, our luggage can travel in the cabin for free and, most important, there is no risk of losing our suitcase somewhere.

2. Hold Bag

It is the luggage placed in the separate transport area of the plane. There are categories by weight, for example, a suitcase of 15 or 25 kg, depending on the company. What matters is the weight, not the volume or shape of the baggage.

With this option, we can carry as many things as we want and bring back bottles of wine or oil from the place we visited.

We also travel more comfortably as we arrive at the airport entrance, go to our airline’s check-in counter, show our passport and boarding pass and check in our luggage.

The downside is that this process is a bit more time-consuming. It requires our arrival at the airport 2.5 hours before the departure of our flight, and on arriving at our destination, we have to wait for the baggage to get offloaded.

Finally, there is a charge for baggage delivery and a (rare) chance that our suitcase will be damaged in transit or lost altogether. For this reason, we never put medicines, important documents and valuables in the luggage.

Seat selection

Before issuing the ticket, we choose whether we want to be randomly assigned our seat in the cabin (most of the time, but not every time, the middle seat between the window and the aisle) or if we prefer to choose our place, with an extra charge. Good choice if we are travelling with a group so that we have adjacent seats during the trip. If we like admiring the view or sleeping undisturbed, we would probably choose the window seat. If we have claustrophobia or visit the toilet often, it is better to choose the aisle.

The cabin is zoned, and the choice of seat in premium seats is even more expensive as it provides extra legroom, ideal for very tall passengers. For this reason, only passengers over 16 years old are allowed there, without mobility problems. We must place all our belongings in special luggage lockers for the landing and the take-off.

If we do not have any particular need or our flight is short, it would be best to choose the free random seat and maybe eventually be given a business seat.


Next option, if we want to add assistance service, by specialized airport staff, for our pick-up from the entrance to the boarding gate or even to our seat inside the plane. Fantastic service for people with mobility problems, those travelling with children or those who struggle to communicate in English.

Fast Track service

It is another service we can choose now for our trip, add it until the last minute or reject it. It offers quick access to the checkpoints for our baggage and travel documents. In some airports, it is somewhat unnecessary, but in others crowded, and even requires 30 minutes of waiting until it is our turn for the check. So if our time is limited and we cannot arrive at the airport at least 1.5 hours before our flight, as planned, then we may have to choose it. It is a good choice for those who dislike queuing or when arriving at the airport late at night and expect to catch the last metro or train. It costs about 5 euros, whenever we choose it, but it concerns either the departing airport or the arriving one. If we add it when booking our ticket, it will only be for the departure airport. If we wish to add this service upon arrival, we must contact the airline customer service or the airport website.

Travel Insurance

The last option, for the more forward-looking, is travel insurance. At an additional cost, we add to our trip insurance that covers us in case of medical emergency, theft or even compensates us in case of flight cancellation.

Booking the ticket

Once we have made all the choices and configured our ticket, we fill in our details. We copy from our identity card or passport our full name, as written on the document in Latin letters, and we fill in our date of birth and the date of issue and expiry of the travel document. To be able to travel, the details on the ticket must be the same as those on our travel document. In case we make a typo, we must correct it immediately. Then, we must add our phone number and email. So we will receive the ticket receipt, with our travel details and booking number, which we must note or save until we travel. On the day of travel, we will receive a message on our mobile phone informing us in case of flight delay and informing us about the departure gate.

Even better to create an account on the company website so that we can more easily access our travel information and save our name and travel documents. We also check if the company has a points reward program to subscribe to.

Ticket Payment

Finally, we fill in the payment details. Other payment method is PayPal and Google Pay.

My plane ticket!

Click confirm, and we are good to go! The screen displays a “booking completed” message with our reservation number. We write down this number or save it with a screenshot. At the same time, we receive an email with the reservation number and the details of our trip. We check again the name, our details, dates and airports listed there, and we do not delete it until the end of our travel.

One day before our trip, we will receive another notice of online check-in. But we will discuss this in the following article. For now, let’s plan our trip!


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Even if you are not currently interested in getting a ticket right now, familiarize yourself with the procedure on the official page of the Skyscanner flight search platform and Ryanair. Both pages are available in all languages.

Feel free to explore the options and stages of ticket issuance but be careful if it is just a trial, do not continue at the payment stage because you will not be able to revoke it if you complete the process.

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