Booking cheap flights is not a luck, but a science. Learning how to search lowcost airlines and how to book, is easier then math, but it helps you a lot.
Fri, 1 Oct 2010 05:33:07
Low cost airlines have a particular way of thinking. Once you manage to understand it, you will be able to find and book the cheapest fare, for the route and period that you are looking for. Follow this advices and I guarantee you fill be able to find a cheap flight as per your needs.
Look for promotions - Most airlines have promotions almost all the time. These promotions are usually valid only for specific destinations and on specific dates (days of week). If you are flexible on dates, check "what is in promotion now", to get the best price! If there is no discount on your desired route and time is not an issue for you, you can wait for 2 to 4 weeks for a promotion on that particular route.
Fly during working days - As many passengers prefer to fly on week-ends, week-end tickets sell first. If you don't book your trip well in advance (2-3 months before) you may notice, for example, that Thursday flights are cheaper than Sunday flights. Some low cost carriers have special promotions on the flights during the week.
Book well in advance - The cheapest tickets sell first. The policy of low cost airlines is to sell cheap tickets at the beginning and to gradually increase prices as tickets are bought. Usually, buying your ticket 2-3 months in advance, allows you to get the best price.
Compare prices - On LowCostRoutes.com you can find the list of all the airlines flying from an airport/city to another. This way, you will know for sure which are the low cost airlines offering cheap flights on your route and you will be able to compare their prices and schedules in order to choose the flights that suit you best.
Consider secondary airports - Usually, secondary airports (smaller airports or airports that are further away from the city center) have lower airport taxes, which translate into lower ticket prices. When comparing the prices of flights departing from 2 different airports, also take into account the price you pay for transportation to the airport (shuttle bus or train ticket, gas, etc).
Escort for unaccompanied minors - Some low cost airlines offer escort services for unaccompanied minors - usually aged more than 6 - for a 50 E fee per flight. Children are entrusted to a specially trained adult who deals with the border crossing formalities and takes care of the children during the flight. Obviously, it is not possible for under-age children to travel on indirect low cost flights, because it is not the escort's job to collect the child's luggage and check him/her in for the onward flight. However, the escort will collect the luggage and entrust it to you together with the child after a direct flight. In order to know what the requirements for minors to travel alone are, inquire with the Border Police.
Check the real ticket price - During flight search, some airlines show the ticket's price without the taxes (like fuel fee, airport taxes, government taxes). Before choosing a flight, check the full price (inclusive of all taxes) that has to be displayed in one of the next steps (before entering your card details).
Travel insurance required? - Some low cost carriers offer you travel insurance by default. This insurance covers you for the duration of your flight/trip. If you already have a comprehensive health insurance policy, it probably covers you much better then the travel insurance offered by the airline. In this case, there is no point in buying travel insurance together with the flight ticket.
Check cancellation policy - Usually, if you choose the lowest fare you will not be allowed to freely modify you flight details (change dates or passengers names, etc). If you think that you might need this in the future, you may consider getting a more flexible (but also more expensive) ticket.
Estimate your luggage well - As they are trying to minimize their costs, the cheap airlines have a restrictive luggage policy. - You can take one piece of hand luggage (usually not heavier than 10kg and with maximum dimensions of 55x40x20cm). For detailed information about hand luggage, check the website of the carrier. - If you plan to also take hold baggage with you, you will need to pay for it online (when booking) or at the airport. It is cheaper to pay online then it is at the airport.
Use online check-in - Most airlines offer the possibility to check-in online. This is generally possible only if you have no hold baggage. By checking in online, you will avoid queuing in order to check-in at the airport (and you will probably also save some money).
"Group" tickets - The price of the tickets increases as more tickets are sold. So, it may happen that there is only one ticket left with the lowest price (e.g. 30Euro), and the others cost more (e.g. 40Euro). If you buy two tickets together, you will be paying the highest price multiplied by the number of persons (in our example 40*2=80Euro, instead of 30+40=70Euro). Always check that the price for the group is not higher than the initial price per person multiplied by the number of people in your group.
Re-check your flight details - Low-cost airlines may (rarely) decide to change the departure/arrival airport (to another airport in the same city) or to reschedule flights. You are usually informed of these changes in advance, via e-mail. However, it is recommended that you re-check your flight details a couple of days before departure.
Weigh your luggage at home - Avoid excess baggage charges by weighing your luggage at home and trying to stay under the weight limit (up to 15 or 25 kilos, depending on the airline). If you exceed the weight limit, you may be asked to pay 10-15E per extra kilo. If you are over the limit and you can't leave anything else at home, it may be a good idea to take a hand baggage. But, be careful: check the weight limits for your hand baggage too!
Food and drinks on the plane - One of the most important "features" of all low cost flights is that the airline does not offer free food and drinks on the plane. They are sold on board, but everything is quite expensive. If you travel on low budget, you can take some sandwiches from home. But remember that you cannot carry any liquids in your hand luggage past the security check!
This advices are offered by Lucian, from LowCostRoutes.com. For more information and other tips, you can check the page of tips for booking lowcost flights .