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Cheap flights? How to get the best deal for your airfares

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Shopping smartly can pay off for airfares

Shopping smartly can pay off for airfares

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The experts from Which? offer suggestions on how to get the best deal for your airfares.

Time it right

Airfares are dynamically priced, fluctuating with demand, so it’s impossible to predict when you’ll get the best price. Instead set up price alerts so you’re notified when a fare changes. Simply click the price-alerts button on the results page of your flight search and enter your email address. For flexible dates, Kayak will let you watch upcoming weekends, a certain month, or a whole year.

Be flexible

Many sites will show you a graph of the cheapest days to fly over your chosen month, with Fridays and Sundays typically the most expensive. Sometimes you can save a bundle simply by flying one day earlier. If you don’t have that luxury, consider being flexible in other ways. Momondo’s ‘anywhere’ search will find the cheapest destinations for your dates. Meanwhile Kayak’s Explore button will filter results by budget. Type in your home airport and set your top limit in pounds, keeping your dates/duration as broad or as narrow as you like.

Look for alternatives

There’s no rule that says you have to fly in and out with the same airline, or to and from the same airport for that matter. Secondary airports aren’t just blessed with shorter queues -beloved by low-cost airlines, they’re often cheaper too. Just be mindful of extra travel time and costs. For example, Girona and Reus – sometimes referred to as Barcelona North and South - are more than 60 miles from the city.

Be in the know

Signing up for airline or discount-club mailing lists, like Secret Flying or Jack’s Flight Club, means you’ll never miss a bargain. Both send out bargain alerts and details on error fares, where flights are mistakenly flogged at rock-bottom prices. If the airline chooses not to honour them, you’ll get your money back.

When to book

  • When to book for Easter

Interrupt your Christmas shopping to grab an Easter bargain. In mid-December, typically four months in advance of this public holiday you might be able to score 16% savings on average on flights.

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  • When to book for May bank holidays

It might be the last thing on your mind in mid-January or just after Valentine’s Day, but plan your May bank holiday escapes during the depths of the British winter and you’ll make a saving. Book the early May bank holiday three months and three weeks in advance and the late May bank holiday three months early to secure savings of up to 14% and 12%, respectively.

  • When to book your summer holidays

Just because you have to travel during the peak summer season doesn’t mean you can’t still take advantage of early bird savings of up to 7%. Try to secure your flight six months and one week in advance of your trip. Brighten up the first week of the year if you have your heart set on a July break, and leave it until March if you prefer quieter shoulder-season travel in early September.

  • When to book for the August bank holiday

In early June it’s not too late to turn your mind to balmy days of summer, spent overseas. If you book almost three months before the long weekend, flights were found to be 8% cheaper on average than at any other time.

  • When to book for Christmas

Three months in advance marks the sweet spot for a cheap Yuletide getaway. Whether you want to visit the Christmas markets of Europe before the big day or celebrate New Year’s Eve in warmer climes, flights will be 10% cheaper on average if booked in September rather than at any other time.

For more information and advice from Which? see which.co.uk


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