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.
1Compare different airportsWhether 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...
2Stick to budget airlinesThey 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.
3Compare flight timesIf 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.
4Compare different datesIn 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.
5Book early to get the best dealsThe 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.
6Make use of price historyAll 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.
7Select flights with stopoversWhile 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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