If you’re looking for tips and tricks for how to find cheap flights from the UK, you’ve landed in the right place! Being avid travellers, we share exactly what we do to find the lowest cost flights for specific dates, no matter the destination. Our guide includes a number of tools and techniques that anyone can use!
1. Use flight comparison engines
Everyone’s heard of Skyscanner and Google flights. They should be your first destination for comparing flight prices, wherever you’re travelling to. Both comparison engines link to the live price systems for most airlines around the world and provide accurate results for your search criteria. They also have lots of filters, allowing you to limit the number of transfers, flight duration and dates.
Simply enter your departure and arrival airport, chosen dates and hit search. You’ll be given various flight options, each with different times. Be sure to check the flight duration. Cheaper options can sometimes have 2-3 layovers and take 30+ hours to get you to your destination.
Read on to find out how to use flight comparison engines to find the best prices.
2. Be flexible on dates
It goes without saying that Christmas, bank holidays and the kid’s holidays in July/August are generally the most expensive times to travel. Whatever date you’re travelling, sometimes altering your departure/arrival dates by just 1-3 days can help save money. To compare flights on your chosen and surrounding dates, use Skyscanner’s calendar view.
Here you can see prices if you were to fly on other dates in the month. To see this view, simply select ‘Whole month’ in the search form instead of an exact date.
3. Choose alternative airports – to and from
Another way to find cheap flights from the UK is flying to and/or from a different, nearby airport. The alternative airport may not be closer but an extra hour or so of driving can sometimes halve your flight prices. Even if you have to book an overnight hotel, trains/petrol to get to another airport, the hassle and small cost can be worth it.
To compare flights from other UK airport flying out on your desired dates, enter ‘UK’ into the departing airport on Skyscanner, along with your destination.
Not only can you find cheaper flights flying from alternative UK airports, you can also save by flying to an airport nearby your destination and renting a car/catching public transport to get to your final destination. This is often a good option when the foreign airport isn’t too far away from your destination and flights directly to the location are particularly expensive.
For example, Ryanair flies to Reus which is only 1 hour away from Barcelona.
Wizz air flies to Katowice which is 1 hr 30 away from Krakow.
Ryanair fly to Rotterdam, a short train ride from Amsterdam.
To look at alternative destination airports, check the ‘include nearby airport’ box on your Skyscanner search.
4. Flying short haul? Use budget airlines
It goes without saying that the introduction of low cost airlines Easyjet, Jet2, Ryanair and Wizz air have helped UK travellers go on more holidays, to new destinations and for less money.
Keep in mind the following low cost airlines when travelling in Europe, all of which appear on Skyscanner searches.
Since these airlines often charge for extras such as seat selection and check-in baggage, travel light or share luggage for further savings.
Check out this interesting video below to see how budget airlines work and how they have become so successful.
5. Fly early morning or late at night
Getting up at 4am or arriving at 1am may not be ideal but it’s a small price to pay for how much savings can be made. Leisure holiday targeted airlines such as Ryanair often offer cheaper flights at unpopular times to fill seats and you should take advantage of that.
Those extra savings are much better spent on a hotel room upgrade, fancy dinner or family tour once you’re on holiday. Plus you have plenty of time to sleep and relax whilst you’re away.
6. Find a cheap flight package on special offer websites
If you’re flexible on travel dates, travel deals websites such as Holiday Pirates and Wowcher can be great for finding cheap package deals. They often have multiple choices for the most popular destinations and rely on last minute bookings and bulk discounts to sell holidays cheap.
Visit the sites below and search for your destination to see if any offers are available:
7. Flying long haul? Book a multi-stop flight
Sometimes going direct isn’t always the cheapest option. Websites such as Opodo, Travel Up and Travel Bag all partner with Skyscanner and often price themselves cheaper than the official airline website for competition. Even if they’re not cheaper, using a discount code with one of these travel sites can reduce the overall price after applying the code.
To take advantage of exclusive discounts, do your flight search as normal, browse the results and then Google the name of the website and ‘discount codes’ to see what’s available.
I got British Airways flights to Malaysia for £50 cheaper than the official airline site this year by booking with Opodo and using a discount code.
Official airline website themselves also host promotions and discounts so be sure to do some Google research before you book. Sign up to the newsletters of these websites so you get discounts straight to your inbox.
8. Go incognito
A lot of travel websites using cookies to track customers and provide personalised results. This means new visitors may see better prices than returning/regular customers or someone viewing the same search often may see the prices increase. Different destinations can also have different prices for the same flight route!
Open an ‘incognito tab’ in Chrome to disable cookies and see accurate prices. Other web browsers also have this functionality and it’s often referred to as ‘private browsing’. Simply click your ‘browser settings’ icon and select ‘New incognito window’ or ‘New private browsing window’.
9. Book as far in advance as possible
A rough guideline for booking flights is to book around 6-9 months before you’re due to travel. As seats fill up for your flight, revenue controllers for airlines increase prices on a supply and demand basis. Also look out for sales and promotions – airlines use these to boost booking volumes, often at a discounted price. If you’re booking a summer holiday, the Black Friday period in November and the month of January are ideal for finding the best prices.
Monitor flights on a weekly basis so you can see how the price fluctuates. You can also sign up for Skyscanner notifications on price increases and decreases.
Contrary to the above, booking last minute can be cheaper but this does pose a risk as it depends on the demand for your selected flight and how flexible your dates are. If you have set dates to stick to, we’d recommend booking in advance.
10. If you’re flexible on dates or even destinations, regularly monitor Holidaypirates.com
It won travel website of the year in 2016 and we can’t praise it enough! Holiday Pirates scans the web for unusually low prices for flights and error fares. It bases its searches on UK departures and is excellent for travellers who are flexible on dates and are looking to travel between now and 3 months’ time.
11. Search using the local currency of your destination
A lesser known trick for how to find cheap flights from the UK is to look at the localised version of the airline website for the destination you’re visiting. You can also search in local currency on Skyscanner or use a proxy to give websites the impression that you’re doing a search for a computer inside that country.
The economy, demand for the flight and susceptibility to certain prices can be a completely different market in the country you’re visiting, particularly for developing countries. Doing a search as if you were a local and then booking can sometimes be cheaper.
Try it for yourself and let us know what you find!
We’ve shared our top tips for how to find cheap flights from the UK, however many of the above also work for other departure destinations. Just keep in mind the airports you’re flying to and from and always try to be flexible. For more tips and advice on finding the best possible prices when booking your hotel, check out our holiday booking guide here.