We’ve all been there. A budget airline draws you in with a price that seems too good to be true, but once it’s time to pay, you realise that your deal has become inflated by all those additional extras.
Indeed, it’s no secret that airlines fill their booking windows with these little add-ons in the hope that they will entice you and get that precious extra cash out of you. Whether you click them intentionally or by accident on your way through the process, it’s these items that can take your fare closer to what it would be with a non-budget carrier.
So how do you avoid these additional costs? You may think it’s as simple as clicking “no” over and over again. And in a sense, you’d be right. However, it’s not through trickery that people select these options, it’s usually the fact that the add-ons do give you something more, even if it’s not really a necessity in the grand scheme of things.
Here are a few handy tips to avoid the inflated fees and really get the budget fare that drew you in the first place.
Just take cabin luggage
Only going away for a week? Then just stick to cabin luggage. If you fly budget often, invest in a small suitcase that fits in with the standard in-flight baggage allowances and you are away. As soon as you add on stowed luggage, the costs quickly add up and before you know it, you’re paying a fortune. Another tip is to buy toiletries at your destination; the best budget hotels in London will often provide you with complimentary items anyway.
This limits what you can take on holiday somewhat, but for a short break it’s sometimes better to pack light. It’s not like you need the kitchen sink, anyway?
Take your own food
Nothing racks up costs faster than munching away on airline food that is almost double the price of what you would pay on land.
The simple way around this is to take your own food with you or, if it’s in an airport where you can’t take any through to the lounge, at least buy some before you get on the plane while it’s marginally cheaper.
Sort your insurance out in advance
Some airlines will offer you the chance to take out travel insurance with them while you book your flight. Although this might be tempting, it’s likely that you will get it much cheaper if you shop around a little bit beforehand. It is also wise to consider that your trip may not be covered by standard insurance (if you are going skiing, for example), so do your research before booking the flights.
Not only is it much less hassle than checking in at the airport, it’s also cheaper to do it online. There’s no reason not to do this, even if you are taking a big suitcase.
Don’t bother with a seat preference
Unless you are travelling with children, there’s no need to really book seats next to each other on a plane. Budget airlines are rarely full, and you can always just sit together and ask the person with that seat if they don’t mind swapping – most people with souls who are travelling alone will usually oblige.
Consider the payment option
Some flight providers charge extra for credit card use so make sure you are aware of this before you pay. It might be cheaper to use your debit card.
The cheapest time to travel anywhere is during an off-peak time. This can mean late at night or early in the morning as well as during the weekdays. Flying on days like Friday and Saturday will immediately bump up the cost of your ticket.
Arrive in good time
Priority boarding is a waste of money unless you have a physical need to get on the plane first, so just don’t bother with it. Just get to the airport in good time and make sure you are at your departure gate when the board tells you to be there.
Book well in advance or last-minute
You can save plenty of money by following this general rule: book well in advance or last minute. For the former, four months should give you plenty of time to get a decent rate on a flight it also saves you worrying about costs closer to the holiday as you’ll have plenty of time to save up before your trip.
Alternatively, you can try the latter option which, although it does have its risks, can certainly get you a cheaper deal. No provider wants to see a flight leave with empty seats, it’s just a massive waste of money for them, so there’s a good chance that at the last minute they will slash prices to fill those places.
There’s no exact science to this and it does mean that there is an air of uncertainty to doing it this way, but it can pay off. Look to sites like lastminute.com for the best bargains.