Frequent travellers all have their own methods of making sure they get the best priced flights. We’re going to share with you how we make sure we get a great deal on flights and hopefully it will help you save some money on your next trip! So how to get flights at the best price?
Flexible travel dates
For most people your travel dates for your flights will be flexible by at least a day or two, especially if you’re looking at flights months in advance. Being at least a bit flexible can make a huge difference when it comes to getting flights at the best price.
If you are trying to book a flight on a day where plenty of other tourists are also looking to book a flight the cost is going to be high. Most airlines price their flights on a supply and demand basis. This means that when there’s more people looking for a particular flight they will increase the price of that flight. Unfair it might be but that’s business.
When searching for your flights check the price for a day or two either side of your preferred travel dates. If you are flying to a popular city break destination then outbound flights on a Friday and return flights on a Sunday are likely to be priced the highest. If you can fly out on the Thursday or back on the Monday for example you could save money on your flights.
Do check when considering flying out or back a day later whether it means you need an extra night in a hotel. Be sure to check that the extra night in the hotel is not more than the saving on the flight so you aren’t out of pocket overall.
Book well in advance or last minute
The best priced flights are often for sale well in advance. We’re talking about 9 months in advance of when you’re looking to fly give or take a month or two. Particularly when we’re flying long haul we try to get out flights booked at least 9 months before we want to fly.
If you can’t book so far in advance the next best time to book is fairly last minute. This is because the airline won’t make money from empty seats on the flight. So if the flight you want is far from full with just a week or so before it’s due to fly then you have a great chance of getting a cheap seat for that flight.
Check airline competition
Check if there are many airlines flying the route you plan on booking. The more competition between airlines the better the prices are likely to be for that route.
Remember when Thomas Cook collapsed and in the aftermath flight prices for their routes went through the roof? This was because there was one large competitor taken out of the game and an increase in demand by their passengers booking other airlines – the worst time to try and book a flight at a good price.
If there are only one or two airlines flying the route you need then book as early as possible. It’s unlikely in this case that prices will go down. There just isn’t enough competition unless it genuinely isn’t a popular route. If there are many airlines flying the route you need then you can be a bit more flexible in when you book as competition will keep the prices lower for longer.
Consider other nearby airports
This principle applies to anyone who has more than one airport within easy reach of their home. In our case we always compare prices of flights leaving both Manchester and Liverpool airports. If those flights are still expensive we may even check Newcastle and Glasgow airports.
We think it’s worth travelling an extra hour to the airport at the start of your trip, to save some money, than having an extra hour at home but less spending money when you arrive at your destination.
It’s possible to fly to say Prague from both Liverpool and Manchester airports on the same day with the same airline but the price of the flights can be very different. For this example I found the price to fly return from Manchester to Prague was double the price of flying from Liverpool to Prague and both options were flying with the same airline.
Compare the total price
For all of the above searches we recommend using SkyScanner. We find it’s the easiest website to use for searching multiple flights. It clearly shows you which base fare is the cheapest. The only draw back is that the base fare shown on SkyScanner is unlikely to be what you will end up paying.
Unless you are flying long haul check in luggage is unlikely to be included in the base fare. Even some long haul carriers no longer include checked luggage as standard. If you need to check your luggage into the hold check the prices of doing this with the top two or three airlines who had the cheapest base fare for your fight.
Ryanair is notorious for tight baggage restrictions. They were recently taken to court in Spain for these restrictions but won’t be changing their rules anytime soon. You can read about that case on the BBC News site.
Say you are travelling with cabin luggage only and Ryanair came up as the cheapest option for your flight and EasyJet were second cheapest. If you plan on taking any bags larger than a small purse with you EasyJet will most likely have a cheaper total price for your flight as they include cabin baggage within their base fare. If you want to check luggage then Ryanair could be back in contention as you will need to pay extra on top of the EasyJet base fare to check luggage. You will need to check prices on the airlines own website to work out who actually has the cheapest total price.
Hopefully this quick 5 step guide helps you when searching for the best priced flights for your next trip. Let us know in the comments if you have any tricks of your own when searching for a great flight deal!