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5 flight and airline scams to know about before you book travel

Travel booking sites advertise cheaper rates compared to booking directly through an airline. While you can save money by using a third-party site, you must keep a lookout for dangerous scams.

Scammers love to bank on the popularity of reputable websites and the story is no different when it comes to online travel agencies such as Booking.com, Expedia, Skyscanner and Priceline. Tap or click here to find out which brands hackers impersonate the most.

Bottom line: Never let your guard down when booking flights, hotels or rental cars through third-party platforms. Fake websites can be hard to spot. The best way to avoid common travel scams in 2022 is to prepare yourself before departure. Scroll down for the biggest red flags.

1. Your “airline” demands you pay to rebook a flight

Say you miss your flight. After a quick internet search, you find your airline’s official website. You head to the airline’s customer service section and call them up. You’re asked for your personal and payment information to rebook a flight. Once you fork over the cash, you try to confirm your booking.

But when you get to the airport or call the actual airline, there’s a chilling realization. Nobody booked you for another flight. In your haste to buy another seat on an airplane, you didn’t recognize that you were on a fake site.

RELATED: Before you fill out a CAPTCHA form on a website, know a scammer could be behind it

Most airlines will rebook you for free on the next flight to your destination. This is only true if the flight has available spaces, however.

If there are complications, you may need to pay a change or cancellation fee. Luckily, many airlines waived those fees due to Covid-19 throwing a wrench into everyone’s travel plans.

2. Flight and airline scams often try to “confirm your information”

Scammers often trick you after booking a flight through a website. Once you pay, the so-called “company” calls you to verify your personal and financial information. A legitimate company would never do this, so it’s probably a scammer on the other line.

If you’ve already fallen for this scheme or a similar one, we get it. Scam and fraudulent calls are at an all-time high, and there are no signs of stopping. Tap or click here for three steps you should take after falling for a scam.

3. You get a weird confirmation email

Here’s another red flag to look out for. Say you book a flight and receive a confirmation email. So far, so good. There’s just one problem: There’s no ticket.

Authentic confirmation emails always include your ticket information. If it’s missing from your confirmation message, you’re not dealing with the actual airline. You’re looking at a phishing email.

SPEAKING OF WHICHNew phishing scams targeting your bank account

4. You see an ad on social media for free tickets

Kim always says, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Remember this when you see a Facebook post that claims you can get airline tickets if you reply. It’s one of the most extensive scams swirling around the internet right now.

A recent Facebook post from a group called Southwest Air Fans went viral. It wasn’t the real deal, though — it was a fake group made by scammers.

Look up flight and airline scams and you'll find this Southwest Airlines Facebook fan scam offering free tickets for the 69th Anniversary. IT'S FAKE!
Take a look at this screenshot. Would YOU fall for this?

So many people fell for it that the authentic Southwest Airlines put out a statement. In its scam alert post, Southwest Airlines said this deal was not real. “For the record, we’re celebrating our 51st anniversary this year, not our 69th,” the statement said. A cheeky winking emoji followed the statement.

This is just one example of the many fake ads you’ll find on social media. Always double-check the account behind advertisements like this. Look for the blue checkmark next to the account name which lets you know that the account is genuine.

5. You get emails and texts about bargains, ticket giveaways, gift cards and bonus flight hours

Scammers often try to reel you in with the promise of saving a buck. They capitalize on your desire to keep more money in your pocket. That’s why they’ll create phishing scams saying you won a giveaway or a gift card.

Sure, sometimes you do luck out and win a contest. But only if you applied to it through the airline’s official website. Don’t click links in unsolicited emails or text messages without verifying they’re coming from legitimate sources. Also, check the URL to make sure it starts with HTTPS:// and is secure.

Lastly, be careful when filling out surveys. Scams like this often urge you to enter personal information into phishing sites. They might also ask you to download invoices that are full of malware.

If you’re looking for more ways to cut expenses, download the five best money-saving apps for iOS and Android.

Follow these tips to spot flight and airline scams

You can never be too careful. Here are some reminders that can protect you from travel scams and beyond:

  • Watch out for deals that seem too good to be true and overly intrusive surveys.
  • Make sure your confirmation emails include tickets.
  • Be wary of any “confirmation calls.” If the person on the other end of the line says they need to double-check your private data, that’s a surefire sign you’re dealing with a scammer.
  • Typos and sloppy errors are major red flags.
  • Look for documentation on canceling or modifying your flights and confirm them before booking. For example, check out the policies at Kiwi.com. It offers different types of refunds depending on your ticket type.

You may also like: Traveling soon? 5 smart tech steps to take before you hit the road

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