Sometimes booking flights is a simple task. Other times it poses several challenges. A corporate travel manager who must book flights in bulk might find it challenging, especially if they must book them at the last minute.
Ideally, you’ll always book flights with time to spare. However, things remain dynamic in the business world. Companies must seize opportunities when they present themselves. That could lead to attending a conference, meeting, or event without much prior warning.
Succeeding as a travel manager requires professionals to remain agile and ready to tackle last-minute challenges.
Nonetheless, there are several things to keep in mind before making flight reservations.
The following are seven things to keep in mind when booking a flight for travel.
1. The Itinerary
The process begins with the itinerary. You should know when the first event starts at the destination. Then, work backward. To ensure that your team is ready to go on time, figure out when they need to arrive at the destination.
Then, you need to know the time of the last event so you can book the return flight. Keep in mind that it’s usually more cost-effective to book both tickets for your team in one swoop.
Ideally, you’ll have plenty of lead time to book the best flights. The first time you try to reserve them, assess if you can obtain the desired times. Otherwise, you’ll go into problem-solving mode.
Your team can use their flights to catch up on work or rest. Nonetheless, your company will expect you to balance the best travel time with their established budget.
The best time to fly depends on several factors, including availability.
You might book single flights without blinking twice. However, if you need to book ten or more tickets on the same flights, travel planners know that it’s challenging.
In addition, you must monitor flight cancellation rates. The New York Times pointed out that airlines canceled at least 2,500 flights for the Fourth of July weekend in 2022.
To relieve congestion, some airlines have also started removing flights permanently. It put some business travelers in a bind since they had already reserved their travel.
Even though you have airline tickets for your team reserved, continue monitoring the situation.
3. Direct or Layover Route
Obtaining flights with layovers poses challenges, especially if your team must race across the airport.
Airline rates remain dynamic. Sometimes it’s more cost-effective to travel directly. Other times, the rates favor flights with layovers.
Business travel can experience delays from the jump. If the only option is to reserve tickets with layovers, have Plan B ready to go in case your team doesn’t make the connecting flight.
4. The Weather Conditions
Travel planners should remain aware of weather conditions when reserving flights. Snow on the east coast will delay travel. Storms in the southeast will do the same.
Although the west coast doesn’t experience severe winter weather, the connecting city might.
You don’t need to become a meteorologist, but travel planners remain responsible for ensuring that team members arrive at their destinations as expected.
5. Current Rates
Tech and consulting corporations helped expand the business travel sector. However, economic conditions also impact them. Even Amazon has started making cutbacks in an economy that has begun to contract.
Therefore, rates matter to all organizations.
Travel planners must adhere to their department budgets. Thus, you’ll balance available flights with their costs.
Sometimes compromising on ideal flight times and costs doesn’t negatively impact your team.
6. Airline Performance
Given that airlines cancel flights daily, take airline performance into account before making your reservations. If airlines frequently cancel mid-afternoon flights, it’s best to skip booking them.
Some airports also have high cancellation rates. For example, United Airlines announced that it would serve 50 fewer flights from Newark starting after July 1st in 2022.
You can look at websites that track cancellation statistics and stay on top of industry news to follow airline performance.
7. Potential Alternatives
Since corporate trips have several components, consider the ones that can falter. Then, put together a list of potential alternatives.
If your favorite ground transportation provider isn’t available, ensure that you have another in your Rolodex, just in case.
Booking flights is usually an easy task. However, when it’s your job to book several annually, you’ll run into challenging situations. When you book flights, keep an eye on the details, including routes, rates, and weather. Stay on top of industry news and compile a list of alternatives in case something goes sideways.