Should You Book Your Flight With an Airline You’ve Never Heard Of?

In your quest to find a particularly great deal on your flight, you’re likely to come across airlines that seem fictitious – take Bearskin Airlines , which operates out of Ontario, Canada, for example and is very real. Or Chair Airlines , a Swiss airline that flies all over Europe and is not a figment of your imagination. There is even Okay Airways that operates flights to China and Thailand, and at least they are honest about the quality of service.

But is it worth booking with an airline you don’t know anything about? Well, that depends, in part, on your budget, comfort needs, and travel plans. Before you decide to book flights with unfamiliar airlines, please note the following points: just make sure you confirm the airports of your booking and read the fine print.

Check fees and partner airlines

First, before booking, always check for fees that may not be included in your booking – consider fees for checked baggage, carry-on baggage, or simply for reserving a seat. Allegiant Airlines, a low cost airline operating throughout the United States, charges only for printing your boarding pass at the airport. (This is true and costs $ 5.)

Your ticket may seem like a bargain, after all, but probably less so when the airline charges fees you weren’t initially aware of. In this case, your best bet is to search online for that airline and find “additional service charges” or more generally “charges”. If you have any doubts or the airline’s website is misleading you, contact your airline representative and ask them about the baggage or seat booking fees.

After that, search for this airline on the Internet to see if it has a partnership with a major airline; if you have points through an airline, you can use them to buy a flight. American Airlines, for example, partnered with several smaller airlines, including Air Tahiti Nui, Etihad Airways, and InterJet. You can book your flight with AA miles from any of these airlines.

Confirm airports and check reviews

If you are flying a small commuter airline, the airports on your route may not be major hubs. As CNBC Make It recommends, always be sure to double check both airports before confirming your reservation. Don’t stop for an hour outside your destination because you weren’t sure where the airport is – better yet, map your hotel away from the airport just in case. (And if you are in need of a rental car, make sure the airport has it. At least make sure you can get from the airport to the car rental agency.)

And, needless to say, checking airline reviews is pretty critical. You can use websites like to find reviews of just about every airline. Here’s one review on a flight with Okay Airlines: “The seats are a bit cramped, I had to stretch my legs in the aisle … No screens, just magazines in the seat pocket, acceptable for regional flights, but that doesn’t mean there has to be chewing gum sticking the pages together! Do not eat or drink anything, no bottled water, no bags of nuts. The only flight attendant was invisible throughout the flight. ” If a few of these reviews scare you, you might want to consider other options.

TripAdvisor also collects airline reviews to help you avoid a particularly gruesome flight. “The whole plane is dirty, but wait until you see the toilets,” writes MartaKent in an Air Mediterranean review. “… At some point, I even saw flight attendants pour hot water into one of the toilets, trying to unblock it. (Do you even need to pour hot water into the toilet on the plane?) ” Good question !

Finally, before booking, make sure you are aware of the airline’s refund policy in case your trip does not go as planned. Typically, US airlines adhere to the 24 hour rule and allow cancellations within 24 hours at no cost. Elsewhere (and 24 hours later for most American airlines), it’s entirely up to them how and whether they’ll refund you if you decide to change or cancel your plans altogether. For these reasons, always check the fine print before booking, and if in any doubt, contact the airline again directly or look for reviews from other travelers who may have dealt with customer support nightmares with that airline.


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