Knowing how to obtain the best-value flights for your holiday can be tough. With so many websites and so much information out there, it would take hours to sift through all the details - eating into your valuable trip-planning time!
Luckily, we’ve condensed all the best tips and tricks into one, easy-to-follow guide, making sure you get the best flights for your holiday.
When to travel
Picking when to travel is arguably the most important and biggest thing that can affect how much your flights cost.
If you can, avoid vacationing during school holidays. Not only will your destination be much busier during the school holidays, but the flights will be much more expensive too.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option for many of our customers, but there are still ways you can be savvy with your holiday dates. The beginning of August is usually the busiest and most expensive time to fly, as it’s smack bang in the middle of the UK summer holidays. Consider going earlier or later in the break.
Historically, seasoned travellers have always agreed that flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday is cheaper. However with many more people now opting for mid-week breaks, this isn't always the case nowadays. Experts now suggest that flying on a Friday may be cheaper. Sunday is still the most expensive day of the week to fly on.
When to book
Did you know that when you book your flights could also have a massive impact on the price too? While you may be tempted to secure your travel as soon as you’ve decided on a destination, you could save money by waiting a little longer.
For international/long-haul flights, around 4-5 months before your holiday is an optimum time to book. Leaving it any later, and you could be at risk of paying more for in-demand seats.
What day of the week you actually book them also - weirdly - makes a difference too. Ever find yourself stuck at your desk on a Monday - Wednesday afternoon, dreaming of that trip away? Well, you can bet you’re not alone. Therefore, demand is usually higher on these days, simply due to the fact that more people are searching for flight seats.
However, if you wait until the weekend, when people are generally busier, happier, and less likely to be thinking of their holiday, you could bag yourself a cheaper seat. There may only be a difference of five or ten pounds, however it certainly all adds up, especially if you’re booking for a family.
Cheaper isn’t always best
While it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest option that pops up in your flight booking search, this may not always be the best or most efficient option.
Cheaper flights can sometimes come with an exceedingly long layover, sometimes for 12 hours or more. Of course, floating between destinations in an airport isn’t a great use of your precious holiday time, especially if you’re only away for a week.
Speaking of layovers, the cheap flights that appear on flight search websites also sometimes use different, multiple airlines to keep your costs low. While this may seem like a smart move, it usually means that your layover is classed as a ‘self-transfer’ i.e., if your flight is delayed you won’t be put on a new one by the airline - in other words, it’s your responsibility, even if it’s not your fault.
Using multiple airlines for a single trip with a layover can also mean that you need to re-check your baggage, again increasing your chances of missing your connecting flight, and just generally being a bit of a hassle.
While you may save some money, you won’t be starting off your holiday in a stress-free manner - hardly worth it!
Some cheaper airlines may also make-up for it by charging more for baggage (and other hidden extras) than their competitors, luring people in with the initial low base cost. While budget airlines may be more appealing at first glance, more ‘premium’ carriers usually include baggage in their costs (especially for long-haul flights), and things like meals, drinks and entertainment are accounted for as well. Again, this makes your flying experience - and the beginning of your holiday - much nicer.
Consider alternative options
All that being said, it often can be cheaper to include a layover during your journey, as long as you’ve made sure the points above have been considered!
Layovers can be as little as 50 mins, which is great, and can save you money on your booking. On the flip side, a long layover may be welcome news for some travellers who love to hop out and explore a new, less-popular destination before the main part of their holiday begins.
If time is on your side, flying into a less-desired airport is also a great way to bag a cheaper flight. For example, if you plan on hiring a car anyway, flying in Tampa, Orlando Sanford or Miami may be cheaper than flying into Orlando MCO (Florida); into Newark instead of JFK (New York); or into Orly or Beauvais-Tille instead of Charles de Gaulle (Paris). They may be a little outside of your desired destination, but the pennies saved could be worth it.
Set up price alerts
Take advantage of the many flight comparrasions tools out there, and utilise all the services that they offer.
One thing that a lot of popular comparison tools do offer is the option to set-up price alerts. Simply put in your desired dates and location, and be notified of when the flight prices rise or fall in price via email. That way, you don’t need to return to the websites every day to monitor them, and you can spot quickly when the flights are beginning to climb.
A lot of tools also offer things like ‘cheapest month’, ‘entire month’ and even ‘everywhere’ search options, which is ideal if you’re flexible about when/where your next holiday is.
We hope that’s helped clear any confusion you may have with booking flights for your holiday. Got some more tips to add? Click here to join the ATD Travel Community on Facebook and share your advice.