How can congress participants fly cheaply?

The schedule of those who visit an event does not always allow for freely choosing when to travel. But when you can, clever planning can save you a lot of money, as long as a couple of factors are kept in mind.

Photo: David Gunnarsson
Photo: David Gunnarsson

David Gunnarsson

Fly Tuesday or Wednesday
Flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are only half-full, since most people fly on other days. This means there are more cheaper flights on these days. In contrast, planes on Mondays are full of business travellers, so that there are few cheap flights. The same applies to Friday afternoons, when they are full of people who want to fly away for the weekend and return on Sunday afternoon.

Book six weeks ahead
Flight prices fluctuate from the first moment they are published to the date of travel. Their evolve along a curve which usually reaches its lowest point about six weeks before the date of the flight. During the last four weeks before takeoff the prices rise steadily – and especially sharply in the two weeks beforehand. 

Keep an eye on extra charges
It is a well-known maxim that you should avoid the extra charges levied by airlines. The most common extra charge nowadays, which more and more airlines charge, is for baggage. This charge is often not visible until the traveller has already initiated the booking process. If you can reduce baggage and travel only with hand luggage, then you will fly more cheaply. And if you are travelling alone, then it is better to forego reserving a special seat in the airplane. In addition, many airlines do not serve food anymore, but try to sell overpriced sandwiches on board. Less expensive is to bring your own from home or take advantage of special offers at the airport. 

Attention: If you travel with carry-on luggage only, you can often flymore cheaply. (Photo: Dohop)
Attention: If you travel with carry-on luggage only, you can often flymore cheaply. (Photo: Dohop)

Check online ticket platforms
The lowest prices are not always those offered by the airlines. Many people prefer to purchase their tickets directly from the airline they are flying with. In some cases, they do offer tickets with special conditions on their websites that are not found anywhere else. But this is very rare. Normally large blocks of low-priced tickets are sold to online travel agencies, which then resell them at low prices.

Choose your airport carefully 
Not all airports are the same. Small ones have lower taxes and charges. Airlines that fly there offer lower prices. 

Combine airlines
By combining different airlines you can also save money in certain cases. A flight to London with Germanwings and from there directly to Mallorca with EasyJet can be noticeably less expensive than a direct flight from Germany to Mallorca. The savings of such “self-connect” routes are often substantial, so that making a comparison is always worthwhile. Another option for lowering costs is booking the flights to and from a destination with different airlines. 

Examine last minute offers carefully
Last minute offers were popular for some time. This is no longer the case. When travellers purposefully wait to find cheap flights a few days before they plan to leave then they are often bitterly disappointed – when they discover for example that six weeks before the flights were noticeably less expensive. The sole exceptions are special offers published in the airlines’ newsletters. Those who register with the airline can receive last minute offers that are reserved only for this special group. 

The top tip in one sentence: 
The cheapest flight reservation is made two months beforehand, departure on a Tuesday morning, online check-in only with hand luggage (with a sandwich inside). 

Dohop was founded in 2004 in Reykjavik, Iceland, initially as simply a flight search machine. Today its range of services includes extensive, worldwide search and price comparison functions for flights, hotels, and rental cars. In December 2014 Dohop received the prize for “Worldwide best price comparison website” at World Travel Awards.

This article was published in TFI issue 6/2015


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