Guide: Booking Flights

Quick Tips:
  • Search and booking during weekday afternoons – prices tend to go up at the weekend
  • Search in private browsing – the data stored from your previous searches is picked up otherwise and prices are often raised
  • Click all the way through to the airline’s website – Skyscanner’s displayed prices are not always the most recent

The first part of organising any sort of trip is deciding when you want to go and where your destination will be. I rarely have a concrete idea in mind of where I want to go, but  I know that I want to look for a particular month of the year. When looking for flights, my go-to is always Skyscanner.

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I find it’s a great tool, to begin with, thanks to the search everywhere feature as well as the entire month or cheapest month search options. If like me, you’re not particularly constrained by dates, this is great to view the destinations in price order and day by day prices for outbound and return flights.

So let’s say we know we want to travel sometime in February, but not sure where or when. It’s likely you’ll know what airport you want to travel from. For me, it’s usually Manchester, Liverpool or (centre of the universe) Leeds Bradford as they are all accessible for me.  I would recommend doing a few searches from different airports to compare prices and destinations. There is also the option to search by country so you could search UK to Everywhere which would search all destinations from all UK airports in price order. Alternatively, this also works when searching for a specific country so you could search Manchester to Germany or UK to Spain for example. I really like this feature as it gives great flexibility and openness to the search.

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After using the ‘Everywhere’ search for all of February, we can see that these are the cheapest countries to go to, followed in the drop down box by the particular city or area. In this instance, Frankfurt is the cheapest with prices from £24 return. The calendar then displays the one-way price for each day of that month. I always aim to go at or including a weekend in order to use as little annual leave days as possible. In this instance, I chose  Friday -Sunday, having to use only 1 holiday day and £36 return as an example

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The flight times and airline are then displayed, which can be arranged in price order. After clicking select. this will redirect you to the airline’s website. Do note the prices may have gone up or down but Skyscanner informs you whilst redirecting to the airline’s website. Take note of the timings of the flights and see what other days the airline also flies. They may fly multiple times a week but at different times of the day from the same airport. The ideal timing is early there and late back to maximise the length of your stay, without unnecessarily needing to fork out for extra nights. Alternatively, evening flights there and back don’t take a chunk out of the middle of the day for travelling.

I also found out about a search feature on Ryanair called Fare Finder that is similar to Skyscanner. The search concept is the same but with the addition of adding a price range too. For me, £50 return tends to be my maximum limit and the display is similar – in price order to the destinations from your chosen airport. I also like that you can specify the length of the trip too and it displays the starting price of return flight price. Obviously, it only shows prices for Ryanair flights but they tend to be the cheapest airline the majority of the time.

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When is the best time to book?  I would say 2 months (60 days) in advance is the ideal time, but also look out for flash sales and offers.

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