There is nothing worse than discovering that the chap next to you on the beach got here for a fraction of the ticket price that you paid. Here are the 10 top ways to ensure you get the best airfare deal out there, without spending days haggling with travel agents:
1. Book Early.
It is a myth that the cheapest airfares are available to those who book last minute. Rather, the best deals are usually available about 6 months before departure, when the seats are first released for purchase, and these disappear as availability gets more scarce. So if you’re thinking of going away at Christmas – book your flights now! (NB hotel rooms are still most likely to have their best deals at the last minute).
2. Be Open-Minded about Airports.
Budget airlines often fly to a minor airport that is farther away from the city center than the main airport – this saves them airport fees, which they can pass on in price savings, and you get to see unusual and exotic regional airports!
3. Be Flexible with Dates.
Depending on the destination, it is often cheaper to travel on a Sunday or mid-week, or if you stay over the weekend. Checking prices for dates a few days before or after you originally wanted to fly can often have a big impact on fares. And if you really want to be away for Christmas or a particular bank holiday weekend, then extending your stay for a few days either before or after the popular dates can save you a lot of money.
4. Once you’ve been Flexible, be Consistent.
Low cost flights normally come with stringent Ts & Cs, which often include exorbitant cancellation or change fees. Changing your mind once you’ve booked can be very expensive!
5. Use a Flight Search Engine.
Flight search engines will save you lots of time and money by shopping around for you – you enter your flight details once, and they zip off and search dozens of online travel agents and airlines simultaneously to find you the best deal. Examples of Flight Search Engines include Kayak and SideStep in the US and Foundem in the UK. Sites such as Expedia and Travelocity, are often mistaken for flight search engines, but they are actually online travel agents.
Flight Search Engines make money from referral fees – this means that when you click through to buy your bargain flight, they get a small fee for having pointed you there. Because the budget airlines tend not to pay referral fees, most Flight Search Engines don’t include the Budget Airlines such as EasyJet, RyanAir and AerLingus in their search results. Foundem.com is the only Flight Search Engine to include all of these budget airlines and more.
6. Use Hubs
If you’re going somewhere a little bit obscure, it is often cheapest to use these tips to find a great deal to the nearest major hub city (such as London or Dallas) and then pick up a hop to your final destination from a low cost airline or commuter service. Make sure you leave plenty of time for the transfer, though, as the hop airline won’t be responsible if you miss your connection!
7. Avoid School Holidays
All travel gets more expensive during school holidays, including flights. If you don’t have children, this one’s a no-brainer. And if you do have children, have you considered leaving them behind?
8. Don’t Forget Package Holidays
While its almost always cheapest to de-couple flights and hotels for city breaks and long haul, if you’re looking for a week on a beach or on the piste, package holidays can still sometimes be the cheapest option. Package holidays become even more likely to be the best deal if you’ve ignored tip number 1 and are booking last minute.
9. Look on Wednesday and Saturday Mornings.
The cheapest flights tend to sell out within hours of being released. Airlines play with their fares at any time, but the biggest waves of fresh fare releases tend to be on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
10. Always check the Round Trip Price, even if you’re Flying One-Way
Bizarrely, one-way tickets often cost more than the return equivalent. So if you’re either flying one-way, or open-jaw (i.e. flying to one destination, then taking a train or camel and returning home from somewhere else), always check the round trip equivalents for these fares. Make sure that the flights you’re planning to use are always the outbound ones, though, because airlines often won’t let you board for the return leg of a round-trip if you haven’t actually flown the outbound leg.
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