Discovering how to get cheap flights can make a huge difference to the overall cost of any holiday or trip. This is especially applicable to families where you may be paying for more than two people. If you are paying for a few flights then any differences in prices are multiplied. So if the prices go up by £25 that could mean the overall cost going up by £100 for a family of four.
There are a few things you can try to help you get the best flight prices whether you are looking to travel long haul, for a city break or short stay or a two week summer family holiday. Obviously the answer is to shop around to get the best flight deal however there are a few useful things you need to know to make this task easier and more successful. You need to know what airlines go to your chosen destination, when is the best time to book a cheap flight, what are the best days to fly and is there a best day to book a cheap flight.
When is the best time to book to get a cheap flight
What is the best time to look for cheap flights? The best time to book for cheap flights will depend on a number of factors. If you are booking a scheduled flight then it is usually best to book early and if possible usually when the flights first go on sale. With a charter flight the rules are different and it may be possible the prices could be lower nearer to the departure date.
Getting cheap last minute flights will usually depend on a number of factors. Some supermarkets have a shelf with discounted food that has been reduced because the sell by date is that day or the next. After that the supermarket will be unable to sell the food and it will probably be throw out. This is kind of what happens to charter flight seats as well. The airline that operates the flight will get paid all of their money by the company that has chartered them so they don’t care if the flight is empty.
The charter company wants to get as much money as possible for each flight so like the supermarkets they will normally reduce the flights to make sure they sell. This does not mean that they will wait until a few days before the departure date, panic and sell off all the seats for a really cheap price. The capacity on each flight is carefully managed and the prices will be gradually reduced probably as part of a package holiday with accommodation. Busy dates like Christmas ands especially New Year tend to sell well in advance as does Easter and many of the school holiday dates.
What is a Scheduled Flight?
A scheduled flight is like a local bus service. Both publish schedules to say that the flight/bus will depart each day at a certain time during specific dates. Charter flights also publish a flight schedule but they operate a different way when it comes to the best time to book.
Scheduled airlines include airlines such as British Airways, Easyjet, Flybe, Loganair, Delta airlines, KLM, AIr France, Lufthansa, United, American Airlines and many many more. Another difference is the fares rules which will depend on what type of ticket you book. Generally the cheaper the ticket, the more restrictions there will be. Scheduled airline generally offer a huge range of flight fares from economy to first and business class.
Low Cost Airlines V Traditional Airlines
Low cost airlines are sometimes also known as no frills airlines. These airlines offer flights where they have removed what they consider all the non essential features to help keep the prices lower. This is compared to airlines that traditionally included free drinks, meals and a luggage allowance. So if you are travelling on a short flight and don’t require a drink or a snack and have only a cabin bag why pay for something you don’t need?
Since losing business due to the low cost airlines offering lower prices most of the traditional airlines have introduced more no frills options. You will now find more airlines charging for meals, seat reservations, drinks and aircraft hold luggage. When comparing prices between the two remember to make sure you add up all the things you require especially the hold luggage and any check-in costs.
Another very important factor is to make sure that the flight you are booking is actually going to the destination you want. Whilst you don’t expect to land in the centre of the city most airports are located just outside and have rail or coach transfers into the city centre. Many of the low cost airlines flight go to airports near to cities so your transfer time can be an hour or more and you will need to add in the extra cost of longer coach transfers to get to your destination.
What is a Charter Flight?
If you think of a local sports team hiring a coach to go and play in a tournament you could say they have chartered the coach. It could be for a one off sports event or once a week to play at a particular venue. Charter flights are similar in that a holiday or travel firm contacts an airline and books the aircraft for a one off flight or a series of flights. Most large travel firms have their own aircraft and will obviously use their own airline. They may also use other rival airlines if it makes more economic sense. It is not unusual to see Tui holidays using easyjet and other airlines.
Sometimes you may find that a number of travel firms all share a flight and have a certain number of seats on each flight. This is more likely to destinations that less mainstream or are popular with a specific range of holidaymakers. Charter flights generally tend to operate on a seasonal basis from May to October and November to April. There are some more popular destinations that operate all year round, generally destinations that offer the best year round weather. Some of the holiday firms flights could be seen as scheduled flights as they offer more and more flexibility with holiday durations rather than the traditional seven or fourteen night holidays.
More and more people are tanking more shorter holidays rather than just the traditional two weeks summer family holiday. Some travel firms may add some extra capacity if sales are buoyant and holidays are selling out. This could result in a an extra flight being added for a few weeks over the main school holiday dates. This is much more expensive to operate as it can include two virtually empty flights.
The first flight will probably go out full and fly back empty and the last flight in the series could go out empty and return with passengers. It is possible they may try and sell one way flights on both the empty legs. On a charter flight you will not normally be able to book direct with the airline but only through one of the travel firm that has chartered the flight.
Some travel firms may offer upgraded flight seats which will be their equivalent of first or premium class. This is generally not the equivalent of first or business class on a scheduled flight. As far as getting a cheap flight goes charter flights operate in the opposite way the low cost airlines do. This is covered in the when is it best to book a cheap flight section.
What Are The Best Days To Travel To Get The Best Price?
What day of the week has the cheapest flights? Normally with scheduled flights the quietest days are Tuesday and Wednesday. So if you can travel out and back on these days you could find that there are some savings to be made. Not all flights operate on a Tuesday and a Wednesday and these can be more expensive simply due to the lower frequency and competition on the route. What days are flights cheapest can also depend on when you book, the dates you want to travel and how busy the flight is.
Remember finding cheap flights and holidays will depend on a number of factors. There are no rules just guidelines and tips that could help you find cheaper prices. There is no magic button or search that will give you the guaranteed price for any flight travelling on any specific date. The prices are all fluid and go up and down all the time like stocks and shares.
The information here can help you find a better flight deal with some guidelines and rules that can help. Usually the more you shop around the better chance you have of finding a better deal. This is not an exact science and there is always a chance of finding an amazing bargain an exception to the rule! Happy cheap flight hunting.