For the last few years budget airlines including Ryanair have been trying to overhaul their image, make themselves more customer friendly and have curtailed a lot of their unpopular and penny pinching tactics.
This is why now is the best time to travel with them.
If you don’t have time for the full article, here are the Key Points:
- Check out your route on whichbudget.com
- Be the first to book
- Jump on the offers
- Use the Farefinder
- Vary inbound and outbound airlines and airports
- Get on the last flight of the season
- Get some winter sun
- Careful of group bookings: book individually
Before we start though, here are a few basics (which I’m sure you already know):
- Print your boarding pass, make multiple copies, and have a copy on your phone/passbook: some Budget Airlines including Ryanair will still charge you to print a copy, often more than what you paid for the flight.
- Check your hand luggage size: Many Budget Airlines luggage restrictions (including Ryanair’s) is smaller than standard industry sizes and will lead to you having to check it which often costs more than you paid for the flight.
- The actual reason for this is because many Budget Airlines including Ryanair planes don’t have enough overhead storage for all their passengers so if you are on a busy flight; get to the front of the queue. If you’re at the back of the queue on a full flight you hand luggage will be checked into the hold. This impromptu bag checking leads to a lot of lost bags and, due to infrequent timetables to certain destinations, your bag may not be with you for a while.
- Stay away from the extras: car hire, insurance, in-flight meals and drinks and other extras as they are bad value for money. Stick with the flight and organise your own extras.
It IS difficult to complain when you spend more money on your full English breakfast at the airport than on the flight you are about to get, but sometimes these £10 tickets to paradise are a little elusive. So here’s our guide to making sure you can work the system to get the best fares.
(Please note: advice on booking long haul flights is includes in a different article coming soon)
Whichbudget.com is a great website that tells you which airline is the cheapest on any route: Europe, America, Asia, and beyond. It’s a great way to discover new airlines flying from lesser known airports that don’t turn up on skyscanner or travelsupermarket.com
Be the first to book!
Unlike long haul flights, budget airlines like Ryanair’s pricing system works on a bracket system. They will have a number of tickets at a certain price (e.g. £9.99) and once these are sold the price then jumps to the next bracket (e.g. £14.99). The earlier you book, the more chance you have getting tickets in a cheaper bracket.
Jump on the offers
Not every ticket will be cheap though. Like any other airline, Ryanair’s lowest priced tickets are usually released as part of an offer. Typically these will be the either exotic or upcoming destinations for £9.99 tickets that will make your friends jealous and lead to great weekends away.
Use the fare finder!
The Ryanair fare finder is a great tool for anyone with the flexibility to travel and an open mind to destinations. EasyJet also has a similar tool. This is a tool where you can select where you want to fly from, the date ranges when you want to fly and the system will list the cheapest flights to every destination. As a test I put in the week of my birthday (mid-September) and my local airport and found I could go to Belgium (£20), Estonia (£23) Milan (£24) Lisbon (£25) Croatia (£32) or Corfu (£37).
Vary inbound and outbound airlines and airports
Ryanair, Jet2, Easyjet and other Budget Airlines like to fool you by offering cheap outbound flights and then charging relatively big prices on the return flight. Beat this by varying your carriers and your airports. For example, Ryanair will often offer really cheap flights to Venice but expensive returns. However, Jet2 sometimes offers cheap flights from Venice to England but expensive returns. Alternatively, vary your airports and spend the end of your trip in Milan, Bologna or Pisa who will have return flights at lower prices.
Christmas is expensive and a good idea to spread out the cost is to buy a loved one a couple of budget airline or Ryanair tickets. I am not joking!
The tickets are relatively cheap but you’re buying them a holiday, not a discount air fare. Be smart and make sure the booking is conveniently after your next post-Christmas pay-day so that you can have a good time and it’ll take some pressure off bank account leading up to Christmas.
Plan ahead and it’s easy to get yourself some cheap return flights to warm, sunny destinations in the middle of winter. Short breaks can be had in Malta, the Algarve and Morocco for £50 return. Malta in particular will offer 4* hotels starting at £20 per night and 5* hotels at £50 per night and are still warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts in January.
Be careful when booking for groups. If the number in your group is bigger than the number of tickets at a certain price then the system will charge you at the higher rate for all the tickets. So, if you are booking tickets for 8 friends on a stag do and there are 2 tickets available at £20, 5 tickets in the next bracket at £30 and then 5 more tickets at the next bracket of £50, doing one booking will cost 8 x £50 so £400. Making 3 separate bookings would cost 2 x £20 + 5 x £30 + 1 x £50 so a total of £230 – a saving of £170. By simply changing the number of tickets required on the 1st booking screen you can watch the prices change which will show you where the brackets are.
Get on the last flight of the season
Most of budget airline flights (especially Ryaniar) are shuttle runs: they fly to a destination, drop off their passengers, pick up new ones, and then go home. With seasonal flights there will always be a very unpopular last flight out of the season because there is no return flight. This outbound flight will always be cheap as it will never book up and go into the high cost bracket. However, you need to plan a way to get home…
Let’s work an example; the last flights to Corfu and Chania from my local airport are at the end of October. Those flights are currently £31 and will not go over £50 because who is going to book a flight to Corfu without being able to come home?
You are! Because using the fare finder, you will discover that there are still flights from Corfu to Athens and then back home. So, after flying to the Mediterranean island of Corfu for a few days you fly to Athens for £20 and then fly back to England for £30. That’s £81 flights for Corfu and then Athens. If that’s not enough, you could even spend a day or two on the volcanic spa island of Santorini for £40 return.
With smart planning you can have a dream holiday for FAR less than you ever imagined.
If you have any other tips, success stories or epic fails, we’d love to hear them, so please do let us know or comment below.
Last modified: 27th February 2017