Tips On How To Save Money On Flights
With the arrival of budget airlines and increased competition, flights have become much more affordable in recent years. However, with tight profit margins, low cost airlines are squeezing passengers for every penny they can get. Although the initial flight price looks good, the add-ons can more than wipe out any savings. Knowing how and when to book and being well-informed of the hidden catches will mean that the savings stay in your pocket, not the airline’s.
It is hard to believe that some people still use a travel agent. Although agencies claim to get better prices through their bulk-buying power, their commission must be paid so generally you will pay more. Booking flights direct on the Internet is time-consuming but the savings for a family can be considerable.
The best way to start your search is by using one of the main flight booking websites such as expedia(dot)com or skyscanner(dot)com When you have found a flight that meets your needs, go direct to the airline website and see if they can match or better the price. The advantage of doing the search this way is that the initial website will find the best deal without you having to go to each individual airline website, but when you know what you want, buying it direct from the carrier is usually best. Although the flights may be no cheaper, you will avoid sneaky booking fees that the booking websites add to cover their operating costs, so play the system.
Most discount airlines charge a fee each way for paying by credit or debit card but using Visa Electron is fee free. Ryanair is free using a prepaid Mastercard which can save a family of four around £48 per trip.
Once you have found your perfect flight, consider doing comparative searches on other days. Flying midweek, at unsociable times or on unpopular dates such as Christmas Day can save a fortune.
Budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet are hard to beat, but if you could see what each passenger had paid for their seat on the same flight, the prices would vary hugely. You could be sitting next to someone enjoying the same service yet paying a vastly different price. Timing is everything.
Budget airlines open a flight at a certain price. Any flight which is slow to fill up with bookings will see the prices drop lower and lower, sometimes right down to just £1 plus taxes. However, once the flight is about 85% full, prices are suddenly hiked to full price to catch business travellers and those who must fly at short notice. flightchecker(dot)com is a tool which specifically searches out flights that are under £10 for those who are flexible about when and where they want to travel.
With a low-cost airline, once you have found your best-priced seat including fuel excess, taxes and any compulsory delay levy, consider your options. What you have so far is a seat, nothing more. If you want to reserve a seat next to your partner or child, there’s a priority boarding fee. Want to check in luggage, enjoy a window seat, carry on a bag exceeding 10kg or take a pushchair? It all costs money. At one time, there was even talk of a fee to use the bathroom, but so far things are not that desperate.
Make sure that you pre-book any bags and keep well within the weight restrictions or there will be a steep surcharge. Also complete the online check-in and print out your boarding card within 24 hours of departure to avoid penalties, which currently are £40 per person with Ryanair. Ouch!
Drinks and snacks are for sale during the flight and are mid-priced but it may be better to pick up a drink in the airport after security, and bring a snack from home. The well prepared, smart traveler can save a fortune. The less well-informed will end up feeling they got a bad deal, so it pays to know the rules.
If you want a really cheap flight, checkout bidding sites such as priceline(dot)com. It sells left-over flights, as well as hotels and attraction tickets to the highest bidder. You won’t know the details unless your bid is successful, and you may not get a ticket at all, but for the laid-back traveller it is a fun way to see the world!