3 things everyone booking a budget airline flight should do before traveling to protect their trip

On Monday, British travel company Thomas Cook announced an abrupt halt to operations, with some flights even still in the air. The sudden news left thousands of passengers stranded at airports and around the world, not knowing how to get to their destinations or whether they would get their money back. Add to this the collapse of WOW Air in March and Primera Air in 2018 – both of which left customers in a similar position of being stranded around the world – and it’s becoming increasingly clear that despite budget airlines and travel agents are making it easier for people to travel for a vacation that otherwise might not be possible at all, so customers must take extra precautions when booking to protect their money and travel. Fortunately, everyone who books a flight on a budget airline or through a budget travel agent can do a few things before traveling to protect their trip.

Of course, it's unlikely that the flight you're on will go out of business on the day you travel. But it’s not unrealistic to worry that your trip may be affected or canceled due to unforeseen closures. Airlines can and have just stopped operations completely while planes are in the air and their itineraries are incomplete. So if that happens, how can you bet on cheap companies while still protecting your base? To find out, Bustle spoke with travel expert and Expert Flyer co-founder Chris Lopinto to find out what precautions travelers can take when making travel plans to minimize damage and maximize safety.

While you can't 100% protect yourself from a shutdown, there are ways to make sure you don't lose money and have a backup plan to get home. Here's how to travel safely on a budget:

Add travel insurance when booking


"The easiest way to protect yourself is to purchase travel insurance. You can usually purchase travel insurance when purchasing your flight, but this only covers the flight you purchased and does not cover any hotel and other expenses," Lopinto tells Bustle. To cover these other factors, Lopinto recommends purchasing "more comprehensive travel insurance directly from a third-party travel insurance provider." This will cover all travel purchases during your trip.

Pay for tickets using a credit card with travel insurance

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Lopinto tells Bustle that many credit cards offer insurance for travel-related purchases. If you're not sure whether your card has these benefits, call your credit card provider to find out what benefits it has and the limitations of its coverage - it's important to know all the details so you don't get a false sense of security. That said, many major credit cards have good coverage, and in some cases, you won't even need to purchase additional travel insurance - as your credit card provider will likely have your back, at least financially.

Track similar flights


Before you set off on your trip, find a few similar flights departing from the same airport you're traveling to and from and write down their numbers. If your airline is no longer available, you'll know exactly which airline and flight to look for and hopefully be able to rebook before it fills up. It only takes a few minutes and if your flight is cancelled, you'll be glad you're one step ahead.