What does it take to book the best flight?
I get a lot of questions about finding and booking the right flights. If you live in Europe you’ll be used to the ins and outs of budget airlines and seat sales, but if you’re coming for a visit, especially if this is your first, it can be a bit daunting.
There are many ways to put together the right trip, here are the tools that I use to zip around on a budget.
Start with Google Flights
It helps you choose and gives you all possible options! If there’s one thing that helps make a decision, it’s knowing you’re making the best possible one for the trip you want, and for your budget.
If you’re not sure where to go, use the Explore feature by selecting your departure city and clicking on the map that appears below. It will show you all the possible desinations for your dates, and you can go on to filter by things like the number of stops, your budget, and the time of departure (see above).
If you already know your destination, use the Calendar, Flexible Dates, and Price Graph options (see below).
Calendar and Flexible Dates are perfect to find the right dates for the right price. Alternatively, if you know you want to spend 4 nights in Paris sometime in March, you can use the Price Graph tab to find the most economical flights that will have you away for 4 nights.
If you’re not quite ready to purchase, but you want to keep a particular set of flights in mind, click the ‘track price’ button at the bottom of the screen. Google Flights will add them to your list, and also email you if prices change!
Hopper is an app that uses data to predict changes in prices to flights. You find the flights you’re interested in and start to track them.
The app will send you push notifications to let you know if prices are changing, whether you should purchase now, or if data suggests the cost may go down.
The app is very user friendly and has some nice features to help you select flights quickly and easily. When you choose a destination, you’ll be presented with colour coded maps to indicate how expensive those dates are.
There are also filters for layovers, and whether or not you’d like to see budget airlines/fares which may require you to add on things like seats or luggage for an additional fee.
Look to the budget airlines
I’ll be perfectly honest, there are pros and cons to flying with a budget airline. Many of them have additional fees for luggage, priority boarding, and seat selection. Some will even charge you if you forget to check-in online and print your boarding pass! However, the pros..
Using Ryanair as an example (see above), they have a Fare Finder option that allows you to select your budget, and little else. It does the work for you! By choosing a destination of “Anywhere” and departure dates “Anytime,” Ryanair offers up a variety of locations and dates for you to choose from. You can then narrow things down if something is of interest.
Budget airlines are fantastic when you can be flexible, and sometimes you’ll find yourself somewhere you wouldn’t have originally considered visiting!
Before making any decisions, do check what additional fees you may be charged. A few popular budget airlines in Europe to get you started are: Ryanair, easyJet, Wizzair, WOW Air, Germanwings, Monarch, and Vueling.
A few things to keep in mind
- Double check those additional fees before booking. Your budget flights might cost more in the end with all the add-ons you select!
- Search the airport your flight arrives in to. Some budget airlines are able to offer the low fares because the airport they fly in to is an hour out of the city. Getting from the airport into town will be another expense to consider.
- Some airlines allow one carry-on item, some allow one plus a personal item, some make you pay for the air you breathe. Double check! You don’t want to be asked to check your handbag.
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