While flights tend to be the biggest cost of travelling abroad, many of us end up paying a lot more than is necessary. Here are a few tricks that will help you save money on air travel.
Time it right
The date and time of which you choose to fly can have a huge impact on the price. If you’re still planning when to travel, consider a few of these timing tips to help cut costs:
Fly out of season: Many airlines lower their prices out of peak season in order to attract passengers. The months when you tend to see discounts include September through to November and January through to May (summer and the Christmas period are most expensive due to the steady demand). It’s worth also making sure that there are no local festivals or events going on in your destination – carnivals and sporting events may push up prices.
Fly mid-week: More people choose to fly at weekends and so many airlines offer discounts during the week to help book up empty seats. In fact, a Tuesday to Thursday city break could work out being a lot cheaper than a Friday to Sunday trip.
Fly early morning: A lot less people are willing to catch a flight early in the morning. As a result, such flights are often reduced. If you’re prepared to wake up earlier, you could take advantage of this.
Book at the right time
How far in advance you book can also have an impact on the overall price of the flight. There are really two options when it comes to saving money in this regard – book early or book last minute.
Book early: Some airlines offer early bird discounts for those that are willing to book more than six months in advance. Not only may you get a discount on the overall cost, but you also have the option of paying in instalments. This could make affording a long haul flight a lot cheaper.
Book last minute: Waiting until less than a month before your trip to book your flight could result in some serious deals. Some airlines offer price cuts of as much as 75%. Booking last minute can have its drawbacks – you don’t have as much time to prepare and there could be limited availability when it comes to flights and seats. It’s generally better suited to those travelling solo – large groups may struggle to get seats together.
Break up long-haul flights
The longer the flight, the more it will generally cost. If you’re planning on travelling half-way across the globe, consider the option of a multi-stop journey rather than a direct flight. While breaking up the journey into multiple flights isn’t as convenient, it can cut the cost of travel by as much as half in some cases. Just make sure that you’ve got enough time between both flights – a stopover of several hours could help to allow room for any delays, which can always be a risk.
Choose the right airport
If you’re travelling to a major city, there may be multiple airports to choose from. Compare the costs of flying into each airport as you may find that it’s cheaper to get a flight into one airport than it is to fly into the other. Obviously, you don’t want to end up flying into an airport on the opposite side of the country, so always check where the airport is on a map before booking.
Shop for coupons
Many travel companies and airlines offer coupons, which could allow you to get further discounts on flights. Coupons tend to have very specific terms and conditions as to their use – they may have a limited period before they expire and you may only be able to use them on specific flights. Always read the small print, so that you know exactly what deal you’re getting. There are plenty of sites such as NetVoucherCodes.co.uk, where you can shop for coupon deals. You may also be able to hunt down coupons by subscribing to travel company mailing lists and checking newspapers and magazines.
Be wary of budget airline extras
There are a number of air travel companies out there that advertise themselves as ‘budget airlines’. Such airlines tend to offer much cheaper flights. The trade-off is that you get a much more basic service – the likes of hold baggage and seat selection that come as standard on other airlines may not be included. Passengers that want these extras often end up paying additional fees. These fees can add up – and end up costing you more overall than were you to choose a non-budget airline. A few of the common sneaky extras include:
Hold baggage: Many budget airlines only allow hand luggage – if you want to put baggage in the hold, you’ll have to pay extra. Strict weight restrictions may apply to hand luggage and you may have to pay extra if your hand luggage exceeds the weight limit.
Seat selection: If you want to choose your seat, you may also have to pay extra. This may involve an additional cost for every passenger of whom you want to select a seat for. As a result, those travelling in large groups wanting to sit together may end up paying a huge amount.
Early boarding: Some budget airlines allow you to pay extra to board the plane early. This allows you to skip the boarding commotion but serves very little advantage.
In-flight food/drink: Most airlines charge extra for in-flight meals, snacks and drinks – but you could find yourself paying a lot more on a budget airline. You’re better off buying snacks in the departure lobby beforehand.
Check comparison sites and check direct
Comparison sites like Skyscanner.net can help you to compare multiple flights from multiple airlines. These sites are well worth using, but you may not always want to book flights through them. Booking the flight directly through the airline website could be cheaper in some cases. Make sure to open up an extra tab and check this.
When comparing flights, be careful of closing pages and then returning to them (or indeed refreshing them). You may find that the prices have gone up when you return. This is because such sites store cookies in your browser that allows them to tell that you are a return visitor – the fact that you are eager to return makes them feel that they can push the price up because you clearly haven’t found a better deal elsewhere. If you do need to return to a page, use another browser.
You may also be able to use a private browser so that you don’t store cookies.
Either way, get those air tickets and start planning your next adventure.