How to Book Your Next Flight on Websites

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Learn how to book your plane ticket online

A guide to buying your next plane ticket now

itinerary preparation

Get Ready to Book Your Next Trip

Chances are, you will have to take an airplane at some point in the future if you wish to travel. Nowadays, buying tickets is usually done online, and while most websites accommodate a number of different languages, it is useful to understand the process of booking a flight in English. After all, you could find yourself in a foreign airport or country where you may not be able to use your native tongue. Read on to find out everything you need to know to book your next flight. 

What is booking? 

We use the term booking, or to book(1) something (for example, a flight or a hotel) to “reserve something.” We are basically saying, “I want to buy this ticket, please hold it for me.” 

There will be a short window of time where that ticket is yours, but you need to pay for it before that window expires; otherwise, the ticket will become available for anyone to purchase again. With plane tickets, you usually need to buy the ticket within minutes of booking them. 

travel suitcase in the ocean

How to Book a Plane Ticket

First, you need to choose a destination (the place where you wish to go). Once you have your destination in mind, use your favorite flight search engine (I like Skyscanner) to find available flights. 

The first option you need to consider is whether or not you need a one-way, a round-trip(2), or a multi-stop ticket. A one-way ticket means you just have a single trip to your destination with no return ticket. Round-trip means you will also have a return flight back home. Multi-stop is less common, but this can be useful if you are traveling to many different cities or countries. 

young girl standing in front of flight terminal

The next option you will need to think about is your departure(3) and arrival times(4). Some people hate to depart or arrive in the middle of the night or early in the morning, but these flights are usually cheaper. Likewise, if you want to depart and arrive at a more convenient time of day, your flight will likely be more expensive. 

The last thing to consider before clicking on that buy button is how long the flight will take to arrive at your final destination. Are there any layovers(5)? Layovers are periods of time that you need to wait in between flights. While they can provide an opportunity for a little bit of extra travel, they can also greatly extend your total flight time and make for a very long trip with extra transfers and leave you with a lot of dead time inside airports. 

The alternative is a direct flight. Direct(6) flights make no stops along the way to your final destination. As you can probably guess, these tickets tend to be more expensive, so you will have to choose whether you value money or time more. However, depending on your destination, there may not be any direct flights. 

Passenger Information and Preferences

Once you book your ticket, you will have to fill in your personal information. We call people who take modes of transportation but are not driving, passengers(7). 

You will then have a few options. 

Would you prefer a window or an aisle(8) seat? 

Do you want to order a meal? Sometimes they are included in the ticket price, but not always. 

The last common option is baggage. You will be allowed a small carry-on(8) bag. If you have a lot of luggage or giant suitcases, you will have to check those in(9) when you arrive at the airport. 

view of the wing of the airplane

Finally Purchasing Your Ticket

Woohoo! You’re finally ready to purchase your ticket. There are just one or two more final options to think about before punching in your credit card details. 

Some airlines will offer flexible(10) tickets. These tickets are nice if you think you might need to change your flight details. Buying this flexible ticket will cost a little extra money, but it means you can change your flight or cancel it at no extra charge. 

Lastly, you can grab baggage insurance or get lost-baggage service for a little extra money. It might be a good idea to insure your baggage if you are carrying expensive items inside. 

For anyone who has purchased a plane ticket, you’ll know the price always goes up as soon as you look at the grand total. This is due to administrative fees, and fuel tax, etc. Unfortunately, these are unavoidable. 

Congratulations! You can now book your next flight in English. 

Looking for more English tips? Check out some common idioms in English. 

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1. book (v.) 

Def. to register (something, such as a name) for some future activity or condition (as to engage transportation or reserve lodgings)

Ex. She booked her hotel three months in advance since she was traveling during the peak season. 

2. round-trip (n.) 

Def. a trip to a place and back usually over the same route

Ex. Round-trip is the best option since I need to be back here before next Monday. 

3. departure (n.)

Def. an act of leaving a place

Ex. My departure time is at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, so I will probably just stay up all night and sleep on the plane. 

4. arrival (n.) 

Def. an act of coming or being brought to a place

Ex. When is your arrival time? We will be waiting for you at the airport. 

5. direct (adj.) 

Def. going in the straightest line between two places without stopping or changing direction

Ex. A direct flight from Taipei to Sydney is just too expensive for me right now. 

6. passenger (n.) 

Def. a person who is traveling in a car, bus, train, plane or ship and who is not driving it or working on it

Ex. Most of the passengers on the plane slept during the flight. 

7. aisle (n.) 

Def. a passage between rows of seats in a church, theatre, train, etc

Ex. I like sitting next to the aisle. It makes it easier to get up and go to the bathroom. 

8. carry-on (n.) 

Def. a small bag or case that you carry onto a plane with you

Ex. I like to travel light, so all I have is one carry-on bag. 

9. check  in (phr.) 

Def. to leave bags or cases with an official to be put on a plane or train

Ex. My family brought a lot of extra stuff, so we had to check in three suitcases. 

10. flexible (adj.) 

Def.  able to change to suit new conditions or situations

Ex. You need to be flexible if you work in a group.