Cheap Flights and how to find them

So your living in London (or the UK) now and want to check out the rest of Europe (or maybe even fly home to see the family).. well there’s a lot of cheap airlines out there that will let you do this. Saying that of course a number of them are actually going bankrupt at the moment, so check out your insurance before you do and normally pay with a credit card as that gives you money back protection if you spend over 100 pounds.

The two best site’s that I’ve found for checking out flights (and wished I had known about them when I first arrived!) are Skyscanner.net and Kayak.co.uk

Skyscanner check’s a number of airlines, but it’s good in that it includes the budget ones (e.g. Ryanair and Easyjet) in the searching. It has a number of great options if your living over here. You can get it to show a calendar view so if you want to go someone in particular but aren’t sure when you see which weekend (or days) are the cheapest to fly there and back on.

It also has another option (which I would have liked to use on a couple of weekends) where you just say I want to fly on these dates and it shows you which places are the cheapest to go to. While if you are finding it hard/expensive to fly to the place that you want to go to, use the Map option and look at nearby airports. It might be cheaper to fly to a nearby airport and then take a quick train to where you want to go.

Couple of drawbacks with the site though – the price’s aren’t real time, so you might find a cheap flight, but then click on the Check Flights option, that connects with the airline’s website and your 30 pound flight might then suddendly become a 80 pound flight. 🙁 However it’s worth knowing that if your looking at some airlines (Ryanair in particular), they seem to change their flight prices several times over a day, and definitely over a week sometimes. This can be both increases AND decreases. While the second drawback is that those cheap flights could be flying out at 6am! So more a pain than anything else.

Kayak.co.uk as mentioned is another great site, though it’s orginally an American one (kayak.com) so it’s still developing the UK options. One great thing about Kayak is that as well as checking many different airlines it will also look at other stopover routes that might be available to you that can be a lot cheaper, either through the airline’s direct or through other Airline ticket pricing sites.

For example I was wanting to fly to Turkey for ANZAC day, and had left it a bit late.. only booking a week or two before ANZAC. So all the direct flights were quite expensive. However I found a flight going via Germany (as it flew with Lufthunsa). I checked out on the Lufthunsa and exactly the same flights would have cost me just over 1000 pounds on their website, booking through Kayak it took me to Cheapflights.com which had the same flights for only 300 pounds! How’s that for a saving!

Another great thing with Kayak is the slider’s that is has on the left hand side. So while it might give you plenty of options for some destinations, you can use the sliders so that it only show’s you flight’s that leave after 10am (so you don’t have to catch those stupid early morning flights). While you can do the same thing with the length of time you might like for stopovers.

There are of course all the other usual flight comparison type sites – lastminute.com, expedia.co.uk, opodo.co.uk etc

But remember it’s not all planes in Europe! If your ever going somewhere last minute, or have time up your sleeve and want a different type of journey, why not try a Train? The Seat61 website has a great wealth of information about this, or you can buy the book The Man in Seat 61: A Guide to Taking the Train Through Europe

I managed to get a last minute ticket to a World Cup Quarter Final in Berlin, Germany in 2006. Obviously lots of people were flying over for it. So it actually worked out cheaper (and much more of an experience) to take the train. Left from Waterloo station on the Eurostar on Thursday evening and after one change woke up around 7am a bit before we pulled into Berlin station! Definitely a different experience from the full body searches and limited luggage amounts allowed on most airplanes nowdays, I even got to have a shower on the train before I got off!

Good luck and cheap travelling!

p.s. If you book the Eurostar, watch out!  When you go to the site it charge’s you more if you say you are from Britain, the cheapest country to book trips from is New Zealand.  Seriously.  A newspaper printed that a return Paris to London will cost you 54 pounds if your Australian, and it’s 154 pounds if your British!


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