Research your options if you aren’t using the services of a travel agent. It is ideal to begin your search with a website, or airline ticket aggregators, as they are called, that compares fares with many airlines and calculates all permutations and combinations including different airline choices for onward and return tickets. Sites like makemytrip.com, cleartrip.com, skyscaner.com and expedia.com can help you with this.
Airfares can change frequently, even minute by minute. So it is always better to start your search as early as possible. Generally, it is wiser to begin checking out international flights at least four or five months prior your trip, specifically so, if you plan to travel in summer. You can avail a good deal a month in advance, on your winter travel, i.e., November through March, except during New Year and holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, that require an earlier booking. As a thumb rule, airline fares generally tend to be cheaper during the midweek..
Be prepared to buy your air tickets at short notice due to the high fluctuations of flight ticket prices. Do not wait to discuss with others or ponder over an air ticket price if you feel that you are getting a good deal. Go ahead and buy it, because, the more you delay, the faster the dates sell out and prices go up. You no longer have the luxury these days to put on hold multiple reservations while you ponder over your choices. Time is of essence.
It is always a better option to land in a particular city and leave for home from another city as it hardly makes sense to spend your time and money on returning to the starting point. You will save money by using the same airline for each segment but it need not be the case always. A good air ticket search engine could give you different airline options for different sectors of your travel.
Always, ensure the dates match your choice before you book flight ticket. It is pretty expensive to change or cancel it later. The cancellation or date change fees could be very expensive. Read carefully the cancellation and date change policies before buying an air ticket. Unless you are buying your flight ticket a couple of days before you travel, always try to avoid buying non-refundable flight tickets.
In spite of the tax and other fee additions, these flights are still of good value. Book in advance to avail the lowest fares. The early birds get the lowest cost seats (though there may be occasional surprise sales), and the costlier fares are left for the latecomers.
Low-cost flights sometimes operate from a different terminal rather than from the traditional flights. Check out which terminal your flights use. An online search engine like Skyscannerwould help you find out all your options for budget air travel in Europe.
What’s the catch?
There are potential downsides to cheaper airfares though. The budget tickets are usually non-refundable and non-changeable. You may only have an option of booking your ticket online.
Flights schedules are often tight to enable more flying time for each plane. Hence, there is a strict adherence to deadlines, to the minute. If you are asked to check-in an hour before departure, ensure you are there at the stipulated time. Even a ten minute delay will cost you your journey. Also, if you are connecting between cities, ensure you give minimum two hours between each flight if not more and always check the connecting flight is from the same airport.
Sometimes budget airlines use obscure airports. For instance, one of the farthest airports from London’s city center, the Stansted Airport, is the hub for the English budget carrier Ryanair. If you are flying to Frankfurt on a budget airline, you will, in most probability, be taken to Hahn, which is around 120 km from Frankfurt. Plan and budget for these eventualities while using budget airlines.