Cheap Airfares

Frequently asked questions about cheap airfares

Here are some questions that will help you search for the cheapest airfares.

Cheap flights : how do I find cheap airfares ?

Finding cheap airfares is a complicated business that even seasoned travel agents find a challenge. The best advice, if you have the time, is to shop around, as while most companies offer cheap flights, none can guarantee the best deals to all destinations. Also note that many travel websites and travel agents will not offer both scheduled and charter flights, and few will offer flights on low cost, budget airlines (such as Easyjet, Ryan Air and Flybe) as they offer no commission to travel agents and encourage customers to book direct for the cheapest airfares.

As a general rule, to get the cheapest airfares b e flexible with flight times as midweek flights are often cheaper than those on weekends. If you are flexible enough to fly indirect or leave at an anti-social hour, airfares are likely to be less.

What are the differences between charter flights and scheduled flights ?

Most business and long haul flights are operated by scheduled airlines, well known companies such as British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, American Airlines etc. Budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair are also scheduled airlines. Most scheduled airlines (with the exception of the low-cost airlines) distribute their fares through Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), which travel agents and travel websites use to search for fares.

Charter flights are organised by the major tour operators and are used to transport their package holiday customers to popular holiday beach resorts in the Greek Islands , Spain , Mallorca , Ibiza , the Canary Islands and so on. Charter airlines only operate during peak seasons, so usually between April and September for Mediterranean beach holiday destinations and December and April for ski holidays. Charter airlines generally only sell flight packages for one- or two-week durations, with most flights leaving over the weekend. While most seats are taken up by package holiday tourists, charter airlines also offload spare seats to the public. This is mainly done via travel consolidators who buy seats in bulk and sell them at a profit.

How to get cheap airfares with Scheduled Airlines

In theory all major travel agents should be able to get the same airfares for scheduled airlines though this is not always the case and it's always worth shopping around. In order to get the cheapest airfares be as flexible as possible if you are prepared to be flexible with your dates and to fly indirectly you will find cheaper airfares. You must however remember that the cheapest flight is not necessarily the cheapest option. Flights which return at two in the morning may mean you have to get a taxi home or sleep in the airport, as public transport is unlikely to be running. Likewise if you book with Ryanair (and some other low-cost airlines) make sure you know where you're flying to as they often fly to inconvenient destinations. Barcelona Girona airport, for instance, is 90 miles (145km) from Barcelona and the train to the city may cost more than your flight! Always bear in mind that some airlines are more comfortable than others, with longer leg-room, and food and drinks included. (Low cost airlines often charge for food and drink). Also make sure you add the taxes and surcharges to the total as these add considerably to the airfare.

With the exception of the budget airlines, prices for scheduled airlines generally get more expensive nearer the date of travel . The First, Business and Economy sections of the plane are split into different classes. Once a certain class is filled, you have to pay for the higher class.

How to get a cheap airfare with Charter Airlines

Charter airlines are able to offer low prices by keeping their planes full and they will discount heavily to sell seats at the last minute. Likewise, they may raise prices during peak season if the plane is full. Generally it's possible to get the cheapest flights with charter airlines to the main holiday resorts by booking last minute, however you must be flexible with dates. Due to the informal nature of charter flights , airfares can vary between suppliers, so shop around. Remember that the rules for charter flights are very strict it's not usually possible to change or cancel flights once booked and the luggage allowance is low.

Why can't I book flights leaving from foreign airports?

Most UK travel agents are only allowed to book tickets for flights originating from UK airports.

Can I get frequent Flyer Miles/Points from any airline?

Most scheduled airlines have their own loyalty scheme or will be part of a large alliance such as Oneworld or Star Alliance. Your travel agent should be able to enter your membership number when buying the tickets, otherwise ensure you keep your old ticket, which you can then fax to the airline or use to enter the details online. It's sensible to use an airline if they offer the cheapest airfare, not simply because you are a member of their loyalty scheme unless you are flying on business and don't mind if your company is not getting the cheapest deal! As a general rule, the more you pay for a flight, the more miles you get. Charter airlines and low cost airlines don't have loyalty clubs.

How flexible are tickets?

As mentioned, most tickets with charter and budget airlines are very inflexible. Most scheduled airfares, however, can be changed for an additional fee. Make sure you read the terms and conditions before booking a flight.

Can I cancel my ticket?

Generally, no, but you can usually change the dates before departure provided you pay a fee, plus and additional increase in the airfares.

At what age is an air passenger considered an infant/child?

A child must be under two for the duration of the travel period to be considered an Infant, and under 12 years old to be a Child. Note that Infants are not allocated a seat and must travel on an adult's lap or bassinette if available. As a guideline, Infants are charged 10% of an adult airfare and a Child is charged 75% of the adult fare.

What extras may I be required to pay?

Most governments charge an airport tax, which can add considerably to the airfare. Some airlines also add a Passenger Service Charge (PSC), which varies depending upon the airport of departure. Recently some airlines have added a fuel surcharge to take into account the recent rise in the oil price.

How can I get an upgrade?

This used to be a case of dressing up smartly and being nice to the person at the check-in desk, however most airlines no longer give upgrades unless Economy has been overbooked. If they do they are likely to offer the upgrades to their frequent flyers.

Can I get cheap airfares with Ryan Air?

Yes, but it is often not worth saving a few pounds if it involves flying at an unreasonable hour, being treated like cattle and flying to an airport that is actually miles from the city you were hoping to arrive at. Remember to check the actual location of the airports.


Our editors have researched the airlines offering cheap airfares to airports world wide

Independent guides to cheap flights from

Our editors have researched all the charter, scheduled and budget airlines offering cheap flights to more than 200 popular holiday and business destinations. All the information is totally independent and not influenced by advertising a service which is totally unique. Select your destination from the list below to research airlines, airports and cheap flights. Note that we only include cheap flights from UK and Irish airports more departure destinations will be added soon.
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