How to get the cheapest airline tickets
May 30, 2007 by Michael Redbourn
It's always exciting to think that you've beaten the system and picked up a real bargain and booking a cheap flight can really give you a cheap thrill.
However the hard reality is that it's very hard to track down genuinely cheap flights and what looked like such a fantastic deal may not look so good once you've added on taxes, miscellaneous charges and any fuel supplements.
- The way to start is to check out which airlines fly to the city that you want to visit and you can do that at www.whichbudget.com for routes involving charter and budget airlines and www.flycheapo.com will give you details of 50 budget airlines' routes across Europe.
- Other good planning sites are www.dohop.com, www.jetnav.co.uk, www.jumblefly.com and www.flightmapping.com.
- After you’ve done the above then the next thing to do is to check for prices on some of the airlines' own websites. A good tip is to search a few days either side of your chosen date because you may well find that the price drops or rises on those days. Generally speaking Tuesdays and Wednesdays have the cheapest prices for leisure travellers and Fridays and Sundays are usually the most expensive. If the airline offers the option then sign up for email alerts so that you can book tickets the instant that they go on sale
- Next check out several online travel agents as well as they may have some different deals. Some of the best known are www.ebookers.co.uk, www.expedia.co.uk, www.lastminute.com and www.opodo.co.uk and some newcomers include www.lowcosthols.com and www.flexibletrips.com which is a part of Thomas Cook.
- An additional way to find low prices is to consult price comparison websites. They don’t sell tickets but compare prices from a range of airlines and travel agents. Some of the best known are www.cheapflights.co.uk, www.skyscanner.net, www.travelsupermarket.com and www.traveljungle.co.uk.
- Before you book it’s a good idea to consider the flight departure and arrival times because they make affect the overall cost of the trip. If the flight leaves at 6am for example then you may have to pay for an airport hotel the night before and if it lands at midnight then you might need to take an expensive taxi home.
Some final caveats
Check to see if the airline website that you are booking with adds travel insurance to the cost because some do it automatically. If you already have insurance or don’t want it then you can uncheck this box.
Carefully read the small print regarding cancellation charges or charges to change the name on a ticket or to change to another flight. These can vary greatly but sometimes such changes are not allowed at all.
Finally, check to see if the company that you are buying from holds an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) to protect your money. If it doesn’t it's still alright to book but be aware that if the airline goes belly up that you’ll be unlikely to get any help from anywhere.