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8 tips for finding cheap flights
When it comes to searching for cheap plane tickets, you should follow a few simple but effective steps that will enable you to find something suitable in amongst all the flight comparison sites. Here are 8 pieces of expert advice for finding cheap flights.
- Compare different companies. Booking a cheap flight without the help of a price comparison site will complicate things unnecessarily. With just one click you can compare quotes from over 600 different airline companies worldwide. Check the times of each flight, see if there are any stopovers and weigh up which company is offering the most suitable flight for you, and at a fair price.
- Compare different airports. Whether it be for your departure or arrival, consider the distance to the airport and how much the journey there is going to cost, particularly if travelling by taxi. Departing from London, you have the choice of Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, City, Southend, Luton or Oxford. Travelling from the south west, you could fly from Bristol or Exeter. Flying from the North you have the option of Manchester, Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle, Liverpool or Blackpool. From Wales there is the choice of Cardiff or Swansea. Flying from Scotland you could choose to fly from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen and from Northern Ireland Belfast International, George Best Belfast City or City of Derry airports. Not every airline flies from every single airport, so sometimes it might be cheaper to fly from Luton to get to Barcelona for example...
- Stick to budget airlines. They are experts at providing low-cost flights. If you book far enough in advance and you don’t mind adhering to their strict baggage allowances, low-cost airlines are the best bet for those in search of really low prices. Ryanair, easyJet, airberlin, Jet2 and Vueling all offer flights within Europe for less than £50. Be wary of hidden costs, like excess baggage costs, in flight service charges or booking fees when paying by credit card.
- Compare flight times. If you want to fly for less, being flexible with your flight’s arrival and departure times is a key factor in reducing costs. Morning and evening flights are the most sought after, so try and choose a flight that leaves late-morning or early-afternoon to get the cheapest deal.
- Compare different dates. In the same way as changing your flight time can affect price, changing the day you travel can also impact on cost. If your schedule allows it, try and fly in the middle of the week – on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, rather than choosing dates at the beginning or the end of the week if you want to find the cheapest flights. Weekend flights departing on Friday and returning on Sunday have extra charges and therefore are the most expensive. Leaving on Wednesday and coming back on Tuesday will enable you to secure the cheapest flights, as those days are the least popular.
- Book early to get the best deals. The closer you book to your departure date the more the prices will go up. Obviously when a flight is first put on sale its empty. Airline companies will therefore try to lure customers with the lowest prices. Gradually as the flight fills up, prices will increase, because the companies know that they are more likely to fill the plane. Airline experts claim that the best time to book a low-cost flight is around 60 days in advance. Note that this is not the case with chartered flights, these special flights are put on spontaneously put on sale at random for only very special services and are fairly irregular.
- Make use of price history. All well-respected flight comparison sites will publish their price history together with those of other global airline competitors. As for the choice of date or time, web users can search the cheapest month of the year to travel, which will generally not be during peak season. If you can, choosing the cheapest month of the year is the best option, you will find that flights are 3 times less expensive if you choose to travel during a month which is less in demand.
- Select flights with stopovers. While choosing a direct flight will guarantee you arrive safe and sound and in the quickest possible time, choosing a flight with a stopover will significantly reduce the cost of your plane ticket. In this sense, getting the best price might mean taking your time. A direct flight which takes eight hours could easily be transformed into a 17-hour journey if you include one or two stopovers. When flying from the UK, the trick is to choose an airline company from a neighbouring country like Ireland or France, or at least somewhere in Europe. You can stopover in Rejkyavik to get to New York, or Zurich to get to Beijing, stopovers are less of an issue when travelling on a long haul flight…Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia, Swiss or Alitalia will all have stopovers in their home countries when departing from London, for a lower price than a direct flight, which is less of a constraint if you are in a rush.
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Travel advice during the flight
- During take-off and landing chew gum to prevent earache.
- In case of bad circulation, relieve your legs with special stockings available at your local chemist and walk around as much as possible during the flight.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic and sugary drinks.
- Get plenty of rest. Take an eye mask, a blow-up head rest and earplugs if necessary.
- Don't bother stocking up on piles of magazines and newspapers as airlines usually have a selection onboard.
- Don't be surprised if your on board meal doesn't conjour up your appetite; it is completely normal for the change in air pressure to alter your desire for food.
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