Flights: Seven sensible savings

How to save money when booking flights and hotels:

1. Don’t give it all away
Use the incognito/ private browser setting on your computer when you search for any flights, hotels or holidays. Your computer saves your search data and then gives it to the next websites you visit. This sounds weird, but in practice it means that if you have booked flights to Barcelona for the weekend, the hotel search provider you use will recognise that you are going to be in Barcelona and since they know you need somewhere to sleep, they can hike the prices up. Using the private settings will stop that and the prices should be as low as they can get. Even your phone has this option. Just google how to turn on the incognito/ private setting for the browser you use.

2. Compare and contrast
Compare flights, prices and airlines in a tool like Matrix ITA Software or the simpler version Skyscanner. Even if you can’t find the cheapest fare directly on BA.com, there might still be some left on other sites. When I booked my Christmas flights I got the flights I wanted cheaper by booking via Skyscanner rather then directly from British Airways. Crazy, but true.

3. When you book and pay matters
Don’t book and pay for your flights on a weekend or evening of a weekday. This is the busiest time, with loads of other sunshine-hungry travellers browsing the same destinations as yourself. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier on a Monday or Tuesday morning and book that dream holiday at 6am. I have saved £400 once on a flight & holiday deal by doing this!

4. Stop-overs are opportunities
Many bloggers will tell you it’s cheaper to travel mid-week, but fact is that it’s annoying and you’ll rather include two weekends in your time away instead of one. Scrap that idea and try instead to find the cheapest flights on your preferred day by using Skyscanner or Matrix and be open to stop-overs! I really quite enjoy having a longer stop in a new city and get a chance to nip out and experience a new place. It also breaks up the journey and is easier on the body. Stop-overs also earns you more tier points and miles as you are technically taking two flights instead of one.

5. Sale! Same flight different price
Never pay full price for something you can get at a reduced price. Buying discounted flights is not like buying the last pair of size 38 shoes in the sale despite them having a mark or scuff on them. With the shoes, you have to live with that mark for as long as you own the shoes, but the flight doesn’t come with a defect just because you paid less. They haven’t snatched your life jacket under your seat just because you paid £100 less than your neighbour. You all paid different amounts and you all get there exactly at the same time, with the same in-flight service. Sign up for emails from all the airlines you normally fly with and be ready to book the day the sale arrives. Don’t waste your money on the full price tickets.

6. Never book one-way tickets
Never, ever, ever book a one way ticket with an airline. They charge more money for one-way than it would cost you to buy the return flight and just “miss that flight”. If you can’t find a good out and return combination with one airline, try Matrix and Skyscanner as they use airline combinations. That way you only end up paying what the flight is worth and you can fly BA to Stockholm, but SAS back to London for example.

7. “I can get there for nothing, but the return flight is crazy expensive”
I have always wanted to do a survey on a long haul flight with my fellow passengers to see what they paid for their seat. I’m sure some will have paid lowest price, some paid with frequent flyer miles and some got charged the highest fee possible to make up for the other two. Fact is that airlines will change the rate just by looking at what other flight is a part of the same booking. Take this BA.com example on a flight from Aberdeen (that hot European destination…) to London.

The flight from Aberdeen to London is pretty much the same wether you fly on the Saturday or the Sunday. You can get your ticket for £44 down to London. The big difference is when you look at the return flights. If you pair the Saturday ticket with a Sunday return one you end up paying over £244 for the London to Aberdeen flight. However, if you fly both flights on the Sunday, you pay a lot less for the very same return flight. It’s the same plane, time, seat and yet you end up paying more. Have a look at the example below, this is just the best visual example:

version-1-saturday-out
Option 1: Flights out from Aberdeen to London on Saturday.
version-1-sunday-back
Option 1: Return flight from London to Aberdeen at £244!
version-2-sunday-out
Option 2: flying to London on the Sunday (same price)
version-2-sunday-back
Option 2: But in that case the return flight is so much cheaper!

I should note that this is definitely not isolated to British Airways and I have seen this on so many different airlines. Visually the BA.com site is just so easy to use, sorry BA for having to be the poster child here…

Hope these booking tips helped you, but let me know if you have any other ones that I’m not aware of??

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