There is only one rule when booking flights…shop around! Air travel is a big commercial business, everyone is trying to undercut their competitor and get bums on seats. There is no reason in 2017 to be paying too much for flights thanks to the Internet. Here are some tips to get the best deals on your next trip.
Timing is everything
Flight prices really do fluctuate so try to avoid booking at peak times like weekends, bank holidays or in the evening unless taking advantage of a deal. Urban legend has it that Tuesday lunchtime is the golden window for booking flights, we don’t know how much truth there is in that but booking on a weekday during the day is definitely better.
Another important timing issue with booking flights is the age-old question - do you book well in advance or last minute?
The answer is book early!
Cheap airlines want to grab your attention and stop you booking with other carries so they start their prices lower and then push them up the later you leave it to book (most the time). Around 7-8 weeks before your planned trip is the perfect time to book short-haul and about 3 months for long-haul will find you the best deals.
flickr | Caribb
Booking flights is a time consuming activity but some in-depth research is well worth the time for the savings it will bring you. Set aside a few hours to research flights prior to booking. Check all the budget carriers that fly your route and then check a comparison site to see anything you may have missed. Here are a few of the best of each:
Ryanair is always a good place to start when looking for cheap flights. Its usual rates are always low thanks to the no frills approach to air travel it is famous/notorious for, but you can get even more money off by looking on the Ryanair Fare Finder tool before booking. Fare Finder shows the cheapest flights that are available by either destination or date. If you are just looking for somewhere to go and don’t care where, or you know where you want to go but don’t care when this is the way forward for you.
To see how Ryanair compares to its main rival Easyjet check out the Student Money Saver’s battle of the cheap airlines.
Skyscanner is the clearest and easiest to use of the comparison sites. It shows live prices and includes almost all airlines available. You can search by destination or date and Skyscanner will show the cheapest date to travel around those you have selected, or the cheapest month to visit a particular destination.
Beware though Skyscanner does not always show the cheapest flights available and checking its competitor Kayak is advisable before making arrangements.
Google Flight Search
Google’s flight search function is actually a pleasure to use. It is intuitive and not only shows flights on an interactive map but shows images of destinations alongside top activities to do in that destination all in the same window.
Google allows you to search by date, length of time, destination or interest. And it even has an ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button.
Set up price alerts
If you have you heart set on a particular destination, or travel the same route regularly it is worthwhile signing up to price alert emails. Most airlines and comparison sites offer this as standard and will update you weekly of any fluctuations in price to your route. Use this information to your advantage and be ready to pounce on a price crash.
Go one way (and then the other)
It can pay to check what the cost for each section of your flight will be individually compared to the return flight costs. This way you can compare different airlines on both parts of the route and sometimes this works out far cheaper. If you have multiple airports at your disposal it is also advised you check each route from the different airports as this affects the price.
Now go forth and fly with the knowledge that you have the cheapest seat in the house.