Everyone is going everywhere. Intense competition in recent years has led to lower prices in general, though on busy routes it can be difficult to find a cheap flight unless you’re savvy.
For example, did you know that Tuesdays in January are the cheapest times to travel?
- British Airways deals: affordable short and long haul flights
- Ryanair deals: flights for less than £3
Planning trips can take up a lot of time, so it’s best to know the times of the year, the week and even the day that bargain fares are likely to be found.
Here’s everything you need to know to save money on your next trip.
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1. Set a price-tracker
Finding cheap flights is a little bit like trading in stocks and shares in that you need to do one thing very well: learn the market. Study the market. Get to know what a regular fare costs on the route you want to travel on, and you'll learn how to spot a bargain.
Look at trends in flight prices, and when they hit the magic number that you can afford, buy your ticket. If that all sounds very in-depth and time-consuming, it isn't. Thanks to price-tracking tools on sites like Google Flights, Kayak and Skyscanner it’s easy to do, and completely automated. Yet so few travellers use them.
2. Jet-off in January or November
January is the cheapest month to travel. Most Brits are strapped for cash post-Christmas, leaving lots of empty plane seats and hotel rooms in the first month of the year.
According to Get Going, January is the best time to fly from London to Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Prague, and Rome. September is the best time to fly from London to Chennai, Dubai, Vienna, Mumbai, and Miami, while November is the best time to fly from London to Seoul, Tokyo, Toronto, Hong Kong, Osaka, Munich, and Johannesburg.
3. Travel on a Tuesday evening
Crucially, every single one of those flights mentioned above is most cheaply flown between Sunday and Wednesday. Most of us want to fly early in the morning so we can enjoy wherever we’re going for a few hours longer. That makes flights that leave late at night emptier, and therefore cheaper.
According to Momondo's Annual Flight Study, evening flights on Tuesdays tend to be the cheapest. Perhaps more obvious is when not to fly. Early morning flights on Mondays and Fridays during August and December are when demand is highest.
4. Book flights 60 days in advance
Are you the kind that tries to book a flight the week before you want to fly? Or as soon as the airline schedules come out 11 months in advance? Either way, you’re probably doing it wrong.
If you want the very best price on a flight you should book it 60 days before you want to fly. However, prices of flights almost never drop, so if you see a price you can afford and are happy with, go for it. The price will only go up.
5. Be very flexible
It can help hugely if you’re flexible on dates. Search aggregators like Google Flights, Kayak and Skyscanner can conduct flight searches by month, which can often help find a really low fare mixed in with higher fares.
If you need to travel on a specific date or group of dates, Momondo has a handy Flight Insight that shows the prices for dates surrounding the date you choose.
6. Don’t check luggage
Unless you’re going skiing or heading out on an expedition, it’s likely that you’re currently paying extra to check-in stuff that (a) you don’t use when on a trip, and (b) too often gets lost by airport staff.
So cease with checking-in luggage, and instead travel with a bag or backpack that meets the exact bag dimensions allowed on aircraft (typically 56 x 36 x 23cm).
7. Fly no-frills
Pay-as-you-fly has been around for yonks thanks to RyanAir and EasyJet, but now the long-haul airlines are joining in. Super-low fares are now available if you don’t check luggage, forgo all food and drinks, and don’t mind being assigned a seat.
You may baulk at the thought of flying hungry for nine hours in a middle seat, but if you knew it saved you £300 on a £600 flight to Las Vegas, it might change your mind.
Norwegian Air flights from Gatwick to the US are where to check first for super-low-super-basic fares, though British Airways is also now offering cut-price 'pay least, board last' fares around Europe.
These fares have been dubbed the ‘walk of shame’, but it's how airline boarding has always worked. Besides, the savvy traveller never queues for a pre-assigned seat. Why would you pay more to queue?
8. Join a flight club
The first rule of flight club is… never miss a flight. Who doesn't love the feeling of bagging a long-haul flight for a few hundred quid? However, finding those fares is not easy. So get someone else to do the hard work for you.
For example, if you sign-up to Jack's Flight Club or Scott’s Cheap Flights, you'll get a weekly email detailing a flight going for a song. Perhaps it's the result of an unpublicised flash sale, or a 'mistake fare', which they find using computer programs to scour the booking system for the best discounts and hidden offers. However, you do have to be very flexible, and act very quickly, to take advantage.
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