Travel news and advice

Five budget airline flight hacks to get the most out of your holiday – and save a little money along the way

Travelling can be expensive even if you choose to fly budget. But there are some easy steps you can take to make your next trip less stressful and cheaper. Here are our top five tips

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 6:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 9:06am

We may be flying more than ever before, but finding and booking the right flight can still be one of the most stressful parts of travelling. Here’s how to beat the system and save some money.

1. Fly on a Tuesday evening

According to Momondo’s recent Annual Flight Study, to get the best price you should book a flight 60 days before you want to fly, and aim for an evening flight, preferably on a Tuesday.

When not to fly is pretty obvious: if possible, never fly in August or December, or around Lunar New Year, Easter or the Ching Ming Festival. Avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.

If a trip isn’t tied to a specific date or event, use the likes of Kayak, Skyscanner and Google Flights to search by month. Momondo’s Flight Insight tool displays prices for your ideal date and for surroundings days. The prices are often not that different, but it does help you to quickly spot a bargain.

2. Use a VPN

Cookies can cost you. Have you ever checked the price of a flight, decided to book it, then revisited the site a few hours later only to see that the price has risen? It’s possible that you were a victim of cookies – data files created by a website and stored by your web browser that follow you around the web.

If an airline or travel agent monitors how often you are visiting, they could potentially increase the price of your flight to panic you into buying. It’s hard to tell how often this happens, since the industry uses real-time prices, but at least by using a virtual private network (VPN) app you can browse anonymously.

How to keep track of your things while travelling: the best tracking tags and device monitoring apps

Don’t worry about search sites like Kayak and Skyscanner, which make a point of being independent and unbiased. They merely pull data on flights and prices from airline websites, and claim their search sessions are anonymous.

3. Two straps are better than two, or four, wheels

It goes without saying that if you’ve decided to travel with hand luggage only then it pays to do your research on the exact bag dimensions allowed on the aircraft. However, wearing a backpack has several advantages over rolling luggage.

On busy short-haul flights, gate staff often forcibly take hand luggage off passengers to put in the hold, but they always pick on luggage with wheels. So if you’re carrying a large backpack (and it’s on your back), it’s less likely to be noticed and selected.

4. Forget spontaneity

Travelling with no reservations used to be not only the most fun way to travel, but also often the cheapest, with last-minute bargains the norm. Those days are long gone. The industry is now all about supply and demand, and with more of us flying, flights fill up quickly.

However, it is also true that when airlines lay on extra flights to cope with high demand they will bump up prices to make a flight more cost-effective. There is little you can do about the latter, but there is a lesson: prices of flights rarely drop – they only rise – so book as early as possible.

5. Triple check

Budget airlines might be cheap, but they are also extremely strict. For example, you have to pay a lot more for the option of making changes to your ticket. This leaves no room for error when you’re booking your ticket.

After an hour or two searching for the cheapest flight on various search engines and airline websites, it’s all too easy to select the wrong flight before you notice your error. Don’t rely on the likes of Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights to transfer you to a specific flight on an airline website.

Basic economy: why cheap long-haul flights could be the best deal for savvy travellers

You may select a flight on one of those search sites, but once you get through to the airline website, you may be looking at the price for a different departure time. So, triple check everything, and preferably get someone else to look at your booking page before you pay. There will almost certainly be no refunds if you make a mistake.