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How to Book Cheap Flights

Holidays can be expensive; booking the flights, accommodation, entertainment... the costs can rack up quite quickly, especially if you have to pay for the whole family too! Scoring a cheap flight can be tricky, but once mastered, the money you save can be put toward other elements of your holiday! We guarantee that you'll learn a trick or two from our 'cheap flight' guide on getting the best deal for your money.

Preparation

When looking to purchase in a retail store we can guarantee you will have shopped around, asked some questions, read some reviews... it's exactly the same with flights. Don't jump at the first one you see. On your next flight, try asking the person next to you how much they paid for their ticket. We reckon you will be amazed at the difference in price. Remember, it's all about timing.

Sign up for travel newsletter!

It is a good idea to sign up for airline newsletters as this will generally be your first port of call for any sales or offers. However, if they are offering a discount on tickets to Austria when you're looking for tickets to Portugal, why not go against the grain and try somewhere new? Often going somewhere cheap can be the deciding factor of your holiday if you're on a tight budget - you never know, you may fall in love with a new place and be back before you know it!

Fly off peak

Such as outside of school holidays, summer break, and any annual celebrations. Fly during the night time or the early hours of the morning. Blackout restrictions to remember - These include the summer holidays, Christmas and New Year in which the airlines are at their busy peak. The airlines 'black out' these periods and cheap tickets are not available for these times.

Search Online

Use a price comparison site!

Price comparison sites can be extremely helpful for searching for cheap flights. Be flexible when looking and you're sure to find a bargain! Some good ones include Kayak, Skyscanner, Travelocity and Hipmunk. The benefit of using these sites is that you have complete control of the dates, times and stopovers and they also let you know if it's good to book now or wait.
When entering your flight details, Kayak will reply with hundreds of results. Start by filtering them from low to high. Then decide if you want to take a stopover. If so, go ahead and tick the 'one-stop' box (or 'non-stop' if you're going straight there). With long haul flights, stopovers are often necessary. Results are also able to be filtered by flight time, airline, type of aircraft and stopover duration.

Buy on a Tuesday!

At 3pm Eastern time or 8pm GMT. Why? Because this is when the airlines have their discounted 'happy hour' - But be quick! These offers don't last very long and are usually pulled by the time Thursday comes. Avoid buying at the weekends as you will pay much more for your ticket.

Fly on a Tuesday!

And we don't mean a same day 'buy and fly' method! That would be crazy! In general, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; whereas the most expensive days to fly are Friday and Sunday.

For example, search for a flight from London (all airports) to Brisbane in Australia for 3 weeks, then do the same search again the next day. You will notice a difference in price purely for waiting until a different day! This can effectively save you hundreds in the long run if you do this correctly. However, we recommend using these price comparison sites purely as a guide of when to book and when to wait. Beware that cheaper airlines often have stricter rules, such as cancellation procedures, refunds, and reliability. Make sure you take some time to thoroughly check the terms and conditions first.

Watch out for extras!

Be wary as your low fare can skyrocket once additional (sometimes hidden) fees are added, which can include fees for luggage, fees for meals, fees for premium seats, fees for a 'complimentary' bag, fees for... you get the idea. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy your airline tickets, car rental and hotel room as a package. But make sure you read the small print and be careful to uncheck the boxes and remove those pesky hidden extras if it is not required.

Travel Insurance!

Another additional fee that airlines love to add on is travel insurance. Although convenient to leave the box ticked, you may have already booked travel insurance - and find out later down the line you've accidently bought a second policy.

The travel insurance extra from the airline is more likely not going to be the best deal and may not provide the best cover for your needs. We recommend that you don't rush in to this one and take your time to read policy documents carefully. Your health is the most important and in an emergency situation, travel insurance will be the most valuable thing you will purchase for your trip.

Cheap travel insurance is another thing you may be looking for to keep your overall holiday cost down. Newsletters often hold discount codes and other opportunities to save money, therefore this is a good place to start.

Check the Luggage Restrictions

Know your limit!

Although some airlines won't charge you extra, it is a good idea to double check what the total luggage limit is so you don't get caught out later on when you realize those 'just in case' items weren't such a good idea! Make sure you give yourself some leeway if you're planning on bringing back souvenirs as this is when you are likely to get caught out. It is a good idea to pack a small lightweight portable scale with you so that you can check your luggage on the way home too. Controversially, some airlines can charge up to £42 online for one additional bag if caught out at the airport, reduced to £34 if booked online. If you're travelling with any further luggage, these can start at £90 per bag at the airport, or £40 when booked online. Individual airports will vary regarding their terms and conditions but you could still be charged these prices per kilogram over the limit. Remember that if you are planning on having a stopover and change airlines, the luggage limits will change too.

When Paying

Use air miles!

Unfortunately, some airlines require you to have at least 25,000 points to land yourself a free flight. A rough guide to this is that if your fare is more than £250, spend your miles. If any less than £250, save them and use an alternate payment method.

Debit vs. credit?

Weigh out the odds - it is usually cheaper to pay by debit card, yet they don't give you automatic finance protection for airline delays and cancellations unlike credit cards.

Promo codes!

Usually these can be found in airline newsletters, television adverts, and on the internet. It is always worth doing a quick engine search to see if there are any discount codes online - as with a little time and effort, you can end up paying a significant lower cost without sacrificing your cover. Bonus!

Be cheeky!

If all else fails, be cheeky and ask the airline directly for a discount!

And Last of All...

If the prices for your trip decrease after you've purchased your flight, don't be afraid to ask your airline for a refund. Remember that individual airline rules and policies do vary and you may be unsuccessful, but it is definitely worth trying! Good luck!

Have we missed anything out or would you like to share your tips and advice for booking cheap flights? Why not join in the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages and let us know! If you enjoyed this article, please use the social sharing buttons above to like and share it!

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