To plan a successful trip, you must know what is needed for the trip. If you would like to travel somewhere via air transportation, you need to know what is required to purchase an airplane ticket. A little bit of planning goes a long way. Luckily, purchasing plane tickets has become easier with the advent of the Internet.


You must pay the airline a fee in order to obtain an airplane ticket. Possible payment forms are cash or credit card. Many popular airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, Northwest, American, Delta and JetBlue, are also now accepting PayPal to book an airline ticket. To purchase and pay for your ticket, visit the specific airline's website and follow the instructions accordingly.


If you are flying domestically (e.g., not leaving the country), then you will not need to provide identification when you purchase your plane ticket, but you will to check in and board the airplane. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), "adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight."

See References for a link to what the TSA deems acceptable as identification for air travel. Oftentimes passengers will use a driver’s license with their full name matching that on the boarding pass.

Passport and Visa

For international flights (e.g., you are traveling to another country), then you will need to show your U.S. passport to book flights. Although you do not need a visa to purchase a plane ticket, some international travel destinations require U.S. citizens to obtain a visa to enter the country. Visa applications take up to 4 to 6 weeks to be fully processed, so plan travel documents in advance.

Date and Time of Travel

In order to purchase a flight ticket, you must decide on travel dates. Purchase your ticket accordingly. You may not get your first choice if the airline is already booked, so try another airline or fly on a later date. To avoid this issue, plan your airfare and purchase your ticket ahead of time.

Destination, Duration of Stay and Seating Preferences

You must know where you will be traveling in order to purchase a one-way ticket to a city, and you must know when you will return if you are buying a round-trip ticket to a city. You must also know where on the airplane you would like to sit. Some passengers prefer to purchase aisle seats for ease of bathroom accessibility, while others prefer window seats for the bird's eye view of the land. Furthermore, you must decide whether you would like to sit in coach/economy, business, or first class section of the airplane. First class seats are the most luxurious and comfortable, whereas the coach class is the most economical.

Booking Assistance

First time travelers may see benefit from using a travel agency or travel agent to help with the booking process. Agencies can help travelers navigate frequent flyer programs, travel insurance, and ensure online booking is done for the best ticket price. Assistance from agents often doesn’t end at your departure date either, many travel agencies will offer a phone number in case there is a need to stay in touch or add upgrades.