How to search & book a flight
Bag a bargain flight
How to search & book a flight
Skyscanner and Google Flights are my favourite flight finding tools BUT they need to be used with caution (see below). Both offer the option to put in your starting location and the destination you want to travel to and the dates you want to travel. Both also give you the option to put in a month rather than a specific date and a whole country rather than an airport to give you more options. You can make a booking through both sites or identify which airline(s) give you the best price/options and go to their website(s) and book direct. Popular destinations will throw up lots of options so use the information below to make a decision which suits you best.
Flight search essentials
Bag a bargain flight
With the rise of low cost airlines there are some amazing flight bargains to get your hands on. These days even bigger airlines often try to compete especially across European and a few long haul routes such as New York or Singapore. Have a look at the tips below to help you bag a bargain.
Flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is usually cheaper with Fridays and Sundays being the most expensive.
Don't go in school holidays
If at all possible avoid all school holiday dates as flights can be up to ten times more expensive - if you can go at another time then do. If you are tied to school holidays follow these tips even more rigorously!
Follow you airline(s)
If you know which airlines you want to fly with follow them on social media and sign up to their mailing list as this is where they will first announce their sales and special offers.
Play with your dates
Jiggling your dates by a day or two, if you can, can sometimes make a massive difference to costs. Google Flights gives you the option of a matrix of dates and prices (just select the 'date grid' option) or the price graph shows you prices around the dates you pick.
Look at nearby airports
It may be worth flying out from a different airport than you arrive back to but before you do this think about how you're getting to the airport - if you have to spend loads getting to or from a different airport it may not be worth the hassle. Investigate which other, cheaper, airports are near your destination and how much travelling time this will add to your journey. Look at google flights in 'map' mode to get a good view of surrounding airports.
Book early or last minute
If you know when and where you are going the general rule is to book as early as possible as flight pricing models mean that prices rise as seats sell. If you are going last minute my favourite place to look is TUI who list all their last minute flight deals once you make a few simple choices about where and when you want to fly.
If you know WHEN you want to go but you don't mind WHERE
If you just want to get away and are happy to consider a range of destinations Skyscanner* allows you to search flights to 'Everywhere' and on Google flights you can search by continent. Easyjet also has a facility called 'inspire me' which can give you loads of destinations and prices for your dates.
Paying for flights
Use a credit card of you are spending more than £100 as this will give you protection against airline failure.
Flight search - favourites
These are our favourite flight searching tools:
Flight search - the best of the rest
There are a number of other search engines which do similar flight searches. Lots of them also let you search and book other things such as accommodation and car hire. If you want to check them out try these:
www.kayak.co.uk - simple site for booking flights, hotels, car hire and more.
www.momondo.co.uk* - compares the best offers on flights, hotels, car hire and package holidays.
www.expedia.co.uk - flights, hotels and cars plus some nice extras and a 'things to do' tabs with some great ideas.
www.opodo.co.uk* - clear and useful with online booking for flights, hotels, car hire and lots of handy extras.
www.kiwi.com* - just discovered this one - it lets you search for planes, trains and buses. Also check out the 'Nomad' feature which lets you search for multiple destinations on your trip.
Websites which give you other information about flying
Seat Guru - find the best seat to sit in on your flight.
Skytrax - Hundreds of airlines and airports reviewed on criteria such as service, entertainment and value.
Flight time calculator - find out flight times between destinations.
Flight Aware - track thousands of flights all over the world in real time.
I have to confess to not actually having booked a flight using information from a flight club however they get good press and very positive reviews. They also have some great information about searching for cheap flights. The basic principle is that you sign up to their mailing list - both have a free sign up and a premium paid upgrade - and whenever they spot an amazing flight deal they email you. Particularly worth look at if you have a clear destination in mind and are flexible about your dates.
Jack's Flight Club - Claims to save an average of £400 for a return ticket. The 'Travel Hub' tab is worth a look for more information about finding bargain flights. Free sign up and £35 per year premium
Scott's Flight Club - Similar site with similar claims and some interesting guides. Free sign up and $39 per year upgrade.
Popular charter airlines
These 'traditional' holiday companies offer flight only options often with some great last minute deals. they also offer hotels, holiday packages, car hire and cruises.
Easyjet - UK based with flights all over Europe including Morocco, Israel and Egypt
Ryanair - UK based with flights all over Europe. Very cheap offers but watch baggage charges which can be more than your seat!
Wizz air - Based in Hungary with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe.
Norwegian air - Norway's low cost airline with flights across Europe and to some long haul destinations including the States, South America and Thailand.
Air Asia - Based in Malaysia with low cost flights around SE Asia.
Scoot - Pacific/Asia low cost airline flying all over the region.
Jet Blue - Cheap flights around the Americas.
Jet Star - Flies between destinations in Asia, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.
Popular scheduled airlines
These airlines fly globally to a vast range of destinations. Usually, but not always, they are routed through the country they are based in. If you are looking for a direct flight you will usually find one with the airline of the country you are going to. Many of these airlines also offer internal flights and are a good place to look for routes within a country.