How to fly with a budget

Here are some ways to fly without making a hole in your pocket

Dominic Howard
19th November 2018
Image: Jordan Sanchez

Thanks to flights becoming increasingly cheaper owing to budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizzair, as well as Norwegian and WOW Air, a holiday is on the horizon for more people than ever before, including us students.

However, they’re sometimes not as easy to find as you’d like, so I thought I’d point out a few general tips for nabbing yourself a bargain (such as Barcelona-Boston for £142 return, the lowest price for a transatlantic flight I’ve ever seen).

There are a few general pointers that tend to lead to cheaper flights (but it’s impossible to speak for all routes and airlines); travelling with hand luggage only, flying with layovers on long-haul trips, booking early before airlines run out of seats they’re selling for the lowest price, flying out on Tuesday or Wednesday (since airlines like to catch out business travellers who fly out at the start of the week and fly back for the weekend), flying early in the morning or late at night (though this rule probably has the most exceptions), and flying in and out of secondary airports (e.g. Oslo Torp, Brussels Charleroi or London Stansted).

One thing I occasionally do is keep my idea of a destination vague. For example, if I wanted to go to Italy, I’d check Ryanair flights from Leeds and Manchester to all Italian destinations. So instead of paying £150 for a flight to Rome, I managed to grab a £26 return to Pisa! So maybe swap out Berlin for Cologne, Krakow for Gdansk, or Copenhagen for Aarhus, and watch the flight prices plummet.

A big problem people encounter is lacking the right website to choose flights on – since flight prices can vary day-by-day, a return flight to New York might be £300 one day and £700 the next, so randomly plucking an outbound and return date is not very helpful.

As a result, Google Flights is an extremely useful tool, since it shows you a full-year calendar (for roughly 11 months in advance) of all return flight prices based upon the number of days you choose to stay. After you’ve checked Google Flights, use Skyscanner or Momondo to find the flights listed on Google – Google Flights prices tend to be slightly higher than the lowest fare, so using these websites show you how cheap the flights truly are.

A riskier way to travel (particularly on multi-leg trips) is to book flights that are self-connecting, i.e. essentially just all one-way flights. Now, I really need to stress that this is riskier, since if you book all journeys on one itinerary with any airline, they are legally obliged to get you to your destination if any of your flights are delayed. If you book a series of one-way flights and work out the connections yourself, you are responsible yourself and in the worst case scenario, can do your wallet some serious damage.


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