Finding Cheap Flights

Never before has air travel been so cheap. Love or hate them the budget airlines have changed the face of air travel as prices get ever lower. With so many sites on the web offering to find fares for you, it can get confusing. This article looks at how you can find cheap flights quickly. It provides recommendations of the best broker and comparison sites for air travel.

When looking at flight prices there are 2 key areas that I recommend you check on the web:

  1. Comparison sites *
  2. Chartered flights

If you've got more time to check flight prices and deals then other options to be checked include:

  1. Travel agent / broker sites *
  2. Direct with airlines
  3. Offers
  4. Consider package holidays

* One crafty trick to speed up the checking process further is to use what I term "link to" sites. These allow you to fill in your flight details once and then click buttons to open up comparison or broker site searches without having to re-enter the flight details.

These different methods of finding flights are covered below in more depth.

1. Comparison sites

My top 5 recommended comparison sites for finding cheap flights are:

Kayak A very slick and easy to use website for finding cheap tickets. Good for both short and long haul.
Skyscanner Similar to Kayak, but slightly different search facilities. Good for both Short and long haul.
Travel Jungle A formidable site for finding cheap deals. Better for long haul.
Momondo A Danish site, that consistently comes up in the scores for finding the cheapest flights. Good for both Short and long haul.
Flightchecker The money saving expert site has its own flight checker for finding cheap budget airline deals. Particularly useful when you have some flexibility in dates / locations.

2. Chartered flights

Despite the growth in independent travel, there's still a market for package holidays. The package operators rely on chartering aircraft to big package holiday destinations to provide them with cheap flights. Excess capacity on these chartered planes is often sold off at good prices.

My top 2 recommended comparison sites that specialise in charter flights are:

Flights direct Hunts through scheduled and charter flights to return good prices. Run by an independent UK travel agent based in Glasgow.
Charterflights Supposedly Charterflights sell charter flights from the UK to every charter destination worldwide. Run by an independent UK travel agent based in Surbiton

For an example of how charter flights compare have a look at a comparison exercise I performed for a short haul trip to Las Palmas airport , Gran Canaria. This lists other sites that compare charter flight prices.

3. Broker sites

Particularly recommended broker sites for checking flights are:

Expedia One of the largest players on the web. It consistently returns good prices / flight options.
Travelocity Often has good deals that you can't find elsewhere.
Opodo Owned by 9 European airlines. Can have good offers from these as a result.
Lastminute.com Offers good hotel and flight deals. The mystery deals are often very good.
Australia Travel Market I am giving this site a mentioned after it found the cheapest flight to Sydney in my study.
Southall Travel One of the largest UK independent travel agents.

For more information on broker sites see my search tools article.

For an example of how comparison and broker sites compare have a look at a comparison exercise I performed for a short haul trip to Barcelona and a long haul flight to Sydney .

4. Direct with airlines

Once you have narrowed things down to a particular airline, you may want to check if there are any offers available directly with the relevant airlines website, which are not available
elsewhere.

5. Offers

Always remember to keep your eye out for offers. These won't always be disclosed on comparison or airlines websites. Things to consider are:

Vouchers

Online voucher sites may have voucher codes to get specific deals. Have a look at the main voucher code sites such as Myvouchercodes, Everyday, Voucherstar, or UKVouchercode.

Airmiles

These have been around for many years and can be collected from a variety of sources. If you are going to be spending anyway, why not collect points as you do it?  You can read more details on the main scheme at Airmiles. You can collect Airmiles for this scheme from a variety of sources including: Tesco, Lloyds TSB credit card, eBay, Shell.

Newspapers

The national newspapers often have travel promotions. Sometimes these are very good value and worth looking at. You can keep an eye out at your local newsagents or check the newspapers' travel sections. The main national newspapers are Daily Express, Daily Mail, Guardian, Independent, Mirror, Sun, Telegraph, and the Times.

Credit cards

Some credit cards offer free flights or air miles if you take one and / or spend a certain amount. Current cards with such offers include:

Provider Type Information
Lloyds TSB Duo Amex 1 Airmile for every £10 spent.
Lloyds TSB Duo MasterCard 1 Airmile for every £50 spent.
BMI Amex 20,000 miles on opening. 1.5 miles per £1 spent.
BMI Amex Plus 24,000 miles on opening. 2 miles per £1 spent.
Flybe MasterCard Get a flight after you make first purchase. Then for every £250 you spend get 1 reward4all point. You need 16 points for a free UK return flight. 24 points for European return flight.
Ryanair MasterCard Spend £250 in first 90 days and get 1 bonus flight. Spend £3K in first 6 months and get 2 bonus flights, £3K in 2nd 6 months and get 2 bonus flights.
Easyjet MasterCard Spend £250 in the first 90 days and get 4,000 EasyJet Miles, which can be used to pay for an EasyJet flight worth up to £40 (including taxes). £10 EasyJet spend = 30 EasyJet Miles; £10 overseas spend = 5 EasyJet Miles; £10 all UK spend = 3 EasyJet Miles
BA Amex 1,000 BA Bonus miles when you spend £500 in first 3 months. 1 BA mile for every £1 spent.
BA Premium Amex 6,000 miles when card used for 1st time. 1.5 miles for every £1. £150 fee for card. High rate.
Virgin Atlantic Amex 3000 miles following 1st purchase. 1 mile for every £1 spent.

 

6. Package holidays

If you are off to a popular destination, it's always worth checking out the package holidays. See my separate article on package holidays.


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