How to bag cheap summer flights
Whether you're planning to travel in peak time or low season, you can snap up some great deals if you're prepared to be flexible.
"Holidays are expensive, yet a lot of people don't know that it is easy to cut costs," says Spencer Ireland, sales director at flight comparison site compareandfly.com.
Here are his top tips for bagging cheap flights.
1. Be flexible
If you can be relaxed about your travel dates and how long you're going away for, it will cut the cost of your holiday. Extending your holiday by a day can make a difference to the price. If you plan to go away around a bank holiday weekend, coming back on Tuesday rather than on Monday can bring the price of flights down by up to 50%.
2. Travel on Wednesdays
For short breaks, people usually travel on Friday and return on Sunday. Change your dates to mid-week - especially on Wednesdays for domestic flights - and you'll find cheaper fares.
Moneywise searched on compareandfly.com for a fight from London Gatwick to Malaga in early August. We found that flying on Saturday 2 August for a week, the cheapest flight was £186.83 with Iberia. Change the flight to Wednesday 6 August and the price falls to £157.73 with Ryanair. For a family of four, that's a saving of £114.60.
3. Travel overnight
If you fly overnight and arrive at your holiday destination in the morning, you'll save on the first night's accommodation. If you're an easy sleeper, you can sleep on the plane.
4. Watch out for hidden costs
While well-known airlines can seem more expensive that their low-cost rivals, remember that budget airlines often add on a raft of extras such as baggage allowance, booking and credit card fees.
5. Be flexible about the route
You can sometimes save money be flying into a neighbouring country and driving across the border to your holiday resort.
6. Price up direct and indirect flights
It can sometimes be worth paying extra for a direct flight, as stopovers can be expensive. You may have saved £40 on an indirect flight but airport refreshments on a stopover can eat into the savings you've made. For example, Dalaman Airport in Turkey is home to the world's most expensive McDonalds.
However, sometimes the opposite is true and you could consider breaking your journey up to save money. For example, if you're flying to an island off Thailand, you can book a cheap flight to Bangkok and then take a low-cost flight to the island rather than flying direct. But remember to check the baggage allowance, as scheduled airlines are more generous with baggage than their low-cost counterparts.
7. Factor in taxi fares
Sometimes cheaper night flights can work out more costly if you have to get a taxi to the airport. Travel later, and you catch a train or use a city's underground network. Also check out arrival times at your destination and whether you will need a taxi.
8. Either book far in advance or at the last minute
If you know you need to be somewhere on a certain date, book as far in advance as you can. On the other hand, leave it to the last minute if your dates are flexible.
9. Stay in the loop
A couple of weeks before you book, sign up to airline newsletters, email alerts and social media pages so you can snap up a bargain as soon as they come up.
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