Tips for Saving Money when Booking Plane Tickets
When travelling further than a few hundred miles, whether you're off on holiday, visiting family or friends or going on a business trip, booking your flight is, of course, a necessity. Flight prices are constantly rising, too, and it can be easy to end up spending way more than you'd hoped on your flight, leaving less money to spend on things like fun and extra expenses. Sometimes, the exact same journey can cost hundreds more just because you booked it on a different website or with a different company, or because you booked it at a certain time. Here are some top tips to help you find a cheap flight and avoid extra, unnecessary fees.
Aside from price, what's important to you when booking a flight?
No matter what your destination, never go straight to the airline's website to book your tickets. Say you're flying Manchester, England to Munich, Germany. You could get there on British Airways, EasyJet, RyanAir or any German flight company. Why fly with Company A if you can fly with Company B for half the price? Always compare flights on travel comparison websites. Good suggestions include:
- Skyscanner.com. Skyscanner is easy to use, and you can easily compare prices, flight times and days of departure and arrival. The website also doesn't take a processing fee for using their website, so it can work out cheaper than other sites.
- Travelsupermarket.com (travelling to and from the UK only). Another site that's easy to use, and good if you're flexible with your UK airports. A flight from Leeds might cost more than a flight from Newcastle - compare UK airports and see what's available.
- Other great comparison websites include Opodo and Kayak. Compare several sites at once to get the best deal you can.
Flight tickets comparison websites
If you're a student, websites like Student Universe sometimes have excellent and exclusive offers available. You can also find a great selection of hostels, tours and activities on this site. Add Student Universe to your list if you're in full-time education. This won't guarantee the best deal, however - carry on comparing with other travel websites for the best deal.
Once you've booked your flight, check with the airline's website what their free baggage allowance is. Some airlies, particularly on long-haul flights, offer a fairly generous allowance, usually around 23kg (50 pounds) for checked baggage and around 8-10kg (18-22 pounds) of carry-on luggage. Some also offer an extra accessory such as a laptop bag or a purse.
If this is the case, then you won't need to check in extra luggage. 23kg is quite a lot, but a full case can carry over 30 pounds. Keeping an eye on what you pack will save you unexpected weight fees. However, some airlines with shorter flights have less generous allowances.
RyanAir, for example, will only let you take 10kg (22 pounds) of carry-on luggage, and you have to pay extra to take in a checked bag. This is usually around £15 one-way. If you can, see if you can only take a carry-on bag onto the plane. 10kg is quite a lot, and easily enough for a week's worth of clothes. The only thing is with using this method is that you can't take any liquids or sharp objects in your bag, so this is up to you.
Of course, the purpose of your trip will depend heavily on your decision. If you're a student going to Germany for a week, you could just take your backpack on board and avoid a £30 check-in bag fee (which is what I did in April 2014). If you're going on a business trip, however, you might prefer to pay extra for the suitcase.
Deals for Flexible Dates
Take your time booking your flights, as every penny you save can be spent towards something else. Beware of these extra fees too, and consider whether you need to purchase them.
- Parking at the airport: would it be cheaper or easier to get a taxi, or for somebody to drop you off?
- Overweight cases: weigh your cases before you leave. An extra kilogram of weight could cost a lot.
- Insurance: do you really need insurance? Are you already protected by another company and don't need to buy what the airline offers?
- Selected seating: would you want to pay extra to choose your seat, or might you consider getting a 'random' seat for free?
All of these depend on the airport and the airline, so make sure you check your personal situation before following this advice.
Flying is fun - and if you know you've saved yourself some money, you'll enjoy it all the more. Wherever you're going, your flight is part of your journey, and a great flight with less stress can help you have a great start to your trip. For more tips on flying long-haul, such as what to wear and what to pack, click here.