Wealth

How do I get cheap flights?

The next time you’re sitting on an plane, take a look at the people sitting next to you

The chances are they paid a different amount for their seats, even though you’re in the same cabin class and obviously heading to the same destination

That’s because of the way airlines price their seats. It’s not as simple as set prices for the different cabin classes; prices are determined by a complicated algorithm. The airline wants to make as much money as possible, so it’s constantly assessing demand and other purchase data and potentially changing the prices of seats

So how can you ensure you get the cheapest flight possible? NMTBP to the rescue……

Fly on the right day

Brits on holiday are predictable creatures. We like to fly at the end of the working week or weekend, making Friday and Sunday two of the most expensive days to book flights, according to the website CheapFlights.co.uk

Analysis from that website shows that the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. So if you can be flexible about when you leave, you have a better chance of snapping up the lowest-priced seats

Likewise, flying out at an unpopular time (think very early in the morning or after dinner) can also reduce demand for the cheapest seats, giving you a better chance of snapping them up

Timing is critical

It’s a widespread belief that booking a flight at the last minute will allow you to snap up a cheap, unsold seat. And that can be true, as long as you’re not remotely fussy about where you’re going or what kind of time you fly at

Most of us like a little more certainty in our holiday destinations, so when is the best time to book? It’s counter-intuitive, but most experts suggest not booking too early. If you buy your ticket six months or more in advance then the airline doesn’t have time to assess demand and won’t necessarily be offering its cheapest seats

CheapFlights.co.uk suggests booking 54 to 66 days in advance to get the cheapest deal

Register for alerts

Some airlines and comparison websites allow you to register to receive emailed alerts when cheap flights to your preferred destination are added. Others may email special offers to loyal customers. It’s worth signing up for any alert system so you can act fast if your tickets do come on sale

Avoid extra luggage charges

Charges for excess baggage can be eye-wateringly high. Make sure you weigh and measure all your cases before you leave home, otherwise you might find yourself paying over the odds at the airport. Excess baggage charges can be as high as £20 a kilo!

Don’t fly at peak season

Flying at popular times such as during the school holidays or just before Christmas will always be expensive as demand is so high. If you have any flexibility then avoid the school holidays

Of course, if you have children in school then you’re stuck. However, you can save money in other ways, such as considering a house swap rather than paying for hotels

Be sure that your budget flight IS a good deal

Low-cost airlines can help some travellers fly all over the world for a pittance. But the key word there is ‘some’. If you need to book ‘extras’ such as checking baggage and sitting together, then the price may soon overtake that of standard airlines where those services are included in your ticket

So work out what services you really need and how much they’ll cost, so that you can compare accurate prices

And don’t forget to factor in food. Some carriers such as BA still offer in-flight meals as part of the package. If you decide to buy food on a budget flight, you could end up paying far more than you expect; according to Travelsupermarket.com prices can be up to 400% more on a plane than on the high street

Always use more than one comparison site

Not all travel sites search every airline and some may have arranged specific deals. Before booking, it’s well worth using more than one search tool to see if you can find even cheaper flights

Get your passport in plenty of time

If you need a new passport then don’t leave it to the last minute. It takes three weeks to receive a new passport at a price of £72.50. However, if you book flights and then need a passport in a hurry then you could be charged as much as £128

Official advice is to never book travel before applying for a passport

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