Wednesday, 18 April 2007

How To: Fly for less when your dates are flexible

The "Bargain Hunter" from is another great tool for finding cheap flights.

In this example I have selected Birmingham as my preferred departure point, but note the tick box next to this which I have ticked to show nearby airports as well. Then I have selected Spain and June, and said I want to go for a week, but left everything else open.

Back come the results and we are looking good, with the cheapest price coming in at £28.59 return, including tax. These prices are not "real" because travel supermarket haven't gone out to the airlines yet, but they have a good chance of being real because they show the last results that came back from the airline. You can see under the price it says this was obtained 1 day and 5 hours ago.

So the next task is to make sure it's still true, by clicking on the "Get Updated Quote" button.

And there it is, confirmed! When you follow the site link it was one of Ryanair's famous 1p flights each way, the bulk of the price was tax. So here is a great way to find those travel bargains. Now don't forget to avois Ryanair's priority boarding charge - see

Monday, 9 April 2007

How To: Save money on Train Fares

Having mentioned that singles are often cheaper than returns I thought I should do a demo to show how this works.

For a journey from Birmingham to Glasgow produced the following fares:
The cheapest possible fare is an Apex return at £48, while a saver return is £92.50 and a first class return £273.

If we now click through to the single fares page, we see the following options:

So if we team up the two cheapest singles, as highlighted, we get a return fare of £42, saving £6. But if you look lower down the list at the "Value Advance 1st Single C" line we see £35 each way to travel in first class, saving over £200, and only £22 more than the cheapest return on the previous page.

Bear in mind that in First Class you we will be getting food and drink included, and it's a no-brainer for me. One last check to make is that the cheap fares are not restricted to services with lots of changes, then it's out with the credit card and a day later the tickets arrive in the post.

There is an added benefit that if you travel regularly on Virgin in 1st class you qualify for their "frequent flyer" club, which gives you free travel for two, from Friday to Monday lunch-time (it's a brilliant deal) and even these deep discount tickets qualify.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Trains, Carbon, and Cheap Fares

Saw my first-ever TV ad claiming low-environmental impact as a selling point for travel. Virgin Trains reckon travelling to Scotland by train produces 76% less emissions than flyin gor going by car.

Hmm, whenever I have looked at this issue it seems a lot more complicated than a simple number. Example - did you drive to the station, then take a taxi at the other end, and have you counted those emissions?

Anyway, it reminded me that there are still a lot of people who don't know that these days single fares are often much cheaper than the returns which your search brings back on Virgin trains, or the train line. You will usually see a set of fares, with somewhere nearby a clickable link saying "single fares are available". Many of us ignore this because until recently return fares were always the cheapest, but I did a lot of train travel last year and always ended up buying singles.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Who Flies From Where?

While it's pretty easy to find the route maps from low-cost carriers and see where they fly from, it's possible to miss out on possibilities from some of the smaller airlines, especially with new routes. So I was impressed when I found a site called on the travelrants blog. You can choose either your departure or arrival airport and see who flies which routes. Very quick and simple.

Friday, 30 March 2007

How To: Fly for Less (when your dates are fixed)

There are lots of circumstances where we look for a cheap flight. In this "how to" I am looking at the situation where you have a week off work, you want to get away, but you don't have a lot of cash. If this sounds familiar - read on.

This is a worked example, with screenshots to show how it can be done. I have a week's holiday in June, so I start by putting the dates into

My priority at this time is to find something cheap, so I am not going to specify either a departure airport or a destination, so as to give me the maximum no. of possibilities. Back come the results for a week from June 9th (top right of the screen) and they are looking encouraging:

Ireland is the cheapest option, but I want to go further afield with more promise of sunshine. I decide Spain looks my favourite on this list and click on it to see my choices. That gives me a screen like this:

Madrid is the cheapest option, but I was looking for a bit of sea and sun, so I scan down the list. I choose Murcia as an airport that is convenient for a beach holiday and not too expensive
The next screen takes me to the flight and airline options:

OK, Stansted is not the nmost convenient airport for me, but since it is over £50 cheaper than the next option I am willing to drive there. Clicking "next" will show me the flights:

The first thing to notice is the line near the top of the screen that these prices include taxes and charges. Bet you were expecting they would be additional.

So I can go off on my jollies in June, to a hot seaside in Spain, for a total cost of £52.33. Pretty good eh?

Now by the time you read this prices will have changed, of course. But if you go through the whole process you should be able to find something equally appealing.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Club Class for Free!

Yes, forget all those overpriced business class fares while we show you how to fly Club Class with British Airways for free. And yes, of course there's a catch!

First off your flight needs to depart from London Gatwick. Book any economy flight online and you will have the opportunity in the "manage my booking" section of the BA web site to upgrade to Club Class for a fixed fee of £59. What happened to free you ask - well it costs £60 to check in a second suitcase, which you can do for free in Club Class. So if you have lots of luggage the better seat, the free champagne, the business lounge etc. are all absolutely free. Even if you only have one bag this is a very decent offer.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Priority Boarding on Ryanair - You don't have to pay - part two

Remember it's a game, and Ryanair set the rules. But you can become a good player, with practice. Select no bags, and the screen looks like this. Note the charge highlighted in red, but also the "Remove" which has materialised in small type below. Click on that and your charge will disappear. While you are at it, you may want to remove the insurance charge too.

The net result is your screen ends up with no additional charges. Happy Travelling!