People are always asking me for tips on how to book cheap flights for families. It can be a sticky business as anyone who has ever experimented with booking a flight can tell you. Flight booking portal Opodo recently did a survey on this very thing, I’ve also asked a selection of my favourite family travel bloggers what they have tried and tested that saves them money on family flights.
Cutting the cost of flights
Everyday family spends can help towards the cost of flights. Sarah from Extraordinary Chaos suggests collecting airmiles and converting shopping vouchers to airmiles. Nectar have lots of travel partners you can redeem points with, including flights, and Avios (formally air miles) work with 200 collection partners.
While no one wants to over stuff their inbox, over at Space In Your Case we have noticed that airlines reward loyal customers; signing up for email newsletters with our favourite airlines and local airports helps us to keep on top of discounts, offers and new flight routes. My friend Sarah used a good example of a trip to Greece, flights were £240 pounds at 1am in the morning the day they were released, by 8am they were £1000.
When should you book your flights?
Did you know that booking on a Saturday can save you money? The Opodo survey revealed that booking on Saturday saves the average passenger 3.95% (5.78% domestic, 3.43% short haul, 2.63% long haul) while Sunday is 3.37% cheaper (6.68% domestic, 2.58% short haul, 0.84% long haul).
Opodo research also highlights that booking in September and October could save you up to 13.89%. Book in October to save 10.6% (13.89% domestic, 13.29% short haul, 4.62% long haul) or in September to save 10.18% (9.07% domestic, 13.67%, 7.81% long haul) off the yearly average price.
Everyone always asks how far in advance to book, Carrie from Flying with A Baby looked at the research into this and recommends you ‘Book flights earlier rather later. Last minute flights are not generally cheaper and once you get beyond the 3 week window prices seem to climb.’
I suggest rather than pricing flights up tentatively, you search when you are in a position to book, when dreaming about holidays, I spotted flights for the four of us to Iceland for £500 – a real bargain – when I returned after running the trip past Mr A a few days later, they had doubled.
Choosing an airport and airline for cheap flights
The Opodo survey revealed school holidays add upwards of 20% to flight prices, but how to you get round that? Karen at Mini Travellers recommends ‘trying to travel the day before a school holiday and/or considering regional airports that are less popular such as East Midlands, Newcastle, Liverpool.’
Nisbah from Five Adventurers suggests you ‘check multiple airports, we save thousands every year flying from Scotland when their schools have gone back. Scotland summer holidays run from the start of July until mid August. The last two weeks from Glasgow and Edinburgh are super cheap, we flew to the Far East for 7 of us last year for 2.2k! Manchester was over 4k.
Lisa from Travel Loving Family recommends ‘really considering whether that budget airline is the cheapest option if you don’t get luggage allowance, have to travel for miles and pay for extra fuel, or if it means staying overnight for an early morning flight. Often it doesn’t cost as much to park your car at the smaller regional airports too which all needs to be taken into account.’
Browsing for cheap flights
Helen from Actually Mummy recently travelled to New York as a family, she recommends a tip several travel bloggers have reported interesting results with ‘go incognito on your browser to see if you get lower price offers because the website thinks you’re a new customer.’
Keeping the extra flight costs down
Once you’ve booked a flight, keep the extra costs down, Zena from Zena’s Suitcase recommends ‘making the most of your hand baggage allowance to save on paying for checked in luggage. If the family are travelling together make sure everyone has a carry on.’
For years I mistakenly thought you weren’t allowed to take your own food on aeroplanes but Gatwick Airport guidelines state, ‘you can carry fruit, vegetables and all solid foods in your hand baggage. However, foods in sauces or with a high liquid content (such as sauces, pastes, soups and stews) cannot come through security.’ Packed lunches are a great way to save money and stress when travelling with kids.
Flip Your Holiday Thinking
Deciding where you want to go and then thinking about booking the flight might be your first mistake if you want o bag a cheap holiday. Why not flip it, get the widest range of holiday dates your family can do nailed and then see where the cheap flights are.
Further Tips and Discount codes
Opodo have more money saving flight booking tips and discount codes, so do check out the rest of their survey results. They also surveyed destination popularity. Can you guess what the most popular European city was last year? We went last year and we loved it for families.
Have you saved money booking family flights? Do share your tips in the comments, we’d all love to get our sticky paws on them!
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