Whether you are planning a city break, a holiday in the sun, or perhaps to visit relatives abroad, it’s better to spend your hard-earned cash enjoying your stay rather than paying for your air tickets! However, if you are looking to book cheap flights online, you could be in for a a shock! An internet search for cheap flights will bring up a bewildering display of sites, all promising the cheapest possible flights to almost any destination. So how can you find your way through this maze, and bag a bargain, without spending hours trawling through each site?
Well, armed with a little understanding of how these sites work, you will be better prepared to find what you need without wasting time unnecessarily, so here are a few guidelines to make the process a bit simpler.
Specific destination and dates?
If you have a clear idea of where you want to go, and need to travel at a specific time, then a ‘screenscraper’ site is the best option. These sites take your search criteria and then collate matching information from a range of operators, providing you with a list of specific flights. They tend to search scheduled flights (although some will search both scheduled and charter flights), and they don’t all search the same selection of operators, so spend some time using several, to be sure you have covered all your options.
Some of the best known is sites for budget airlines are CheapFlights.co.uk and Travelsupermarket.com which search over 100 operators to find flights, but others include Skyscanner, Kelkoo, and Momondo. It’s also worth checking with flight brokers as well, such as Expedia or , in case they have a better deal.
Flexible on dates or destination?
If you are flexible about your travel dates, or aren’t fussy where you go, then a site that specialises in the cheapest flights is worth a look. You can search by price band, and the site will tell you what’s available; it’s sometimes possible to get extremely cheap flights this way, although do remember to check if there are any surcharges or taxes to be added. Sites such as MSE Flightchecker, are a great way to find these bargain tickets.
Looking for a popular holiday destination?
If you want to go to a popular holiday resort, then your best option is to use a site that searches for cheap charter flights. Holiday companies will charter an aeroplane (rather than sell individual seats), and naturally they want to fly with all the seats filled. This means that they will offer surplus seats at low prices, just to make sure they are full. Sites include Flightsdirect, which sometimes includes scheduled flights, and Avro, which specialises in charter flights. However, it’s also worth checking with the airlines or holiday companies direct, for example Monarch or Thomas Cook. Again, make sure you check what’s included in the price of your ticket – some operators charge extra for hold luggage and meals.
Flight and hotel?
It’s sometimes possible to get excellent deals by using a flight broker to book a flight and a hotel within 24 hours of each other, even if you don’t actually need a hotel. After all, you can simply use the flight but not stay at the hotel! An added benefit is that you have ATOL protection, which isn’t available for flight-only deals.
So, even though it can seem an overwhelming task to find cheap flights online, with a bit of know-how you could soon be boasting to your friends about how you took a cheap flight and saved yourself some money.