Oct 28 2011 / Travel Tips & Advice

How to find a cheap flight without paying a king’s ransom

Stack of pound coins

My grandfather always told me that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves. Well that’s all very well and good, but how do you do it when you’re looking for cheap flights? We’ve thought long and hard about it, and come up with some tips we hope will help. Please leave your ideas in the comments below!

When to book

  1. There are two schools of thought about when to book a flight to get the best savings. If you know where and when you want to go, and particularly if you’re travelling during a peak period such as a holiday or weekend, we recommend that you book well in advance of travel. This will help you to grab any early bargains available, select your preferred seats on the aircraft, and guarantee your extra legroom seat before they sell out.
  2. On the other hand, if you don’t know where you want to go but you know when you want to travel, you can make savings by booking a late flight deal closer to the departure date.
  3. Be aware that if you want to travel during peak periods such as school holidays, mid-summer, Christmas, Easter and Bank Holidays, prices are likely to be higher due to peaks in demand. It’s all about timing – if you can travel when others are not, chances are you’ll find a cheaper fare. If you want to make a saving, try to book in the ‘shoulder season’ just before or after these peak periods. You may also find tourist site entry fees are reduced or discounted at your destination- and the entry queues will be shorter too! Hotels and resorts will be quieter too – plenty of free sun loungers round the pool!
  4. If you can be flexible with your flight times and dates, you’re likely to be able to find a cheaper flight. It also pays to consider different days to your usual routine – some mid-week flights may be cheaper than weekends, and vice versa, depending on the destination.
  5. If you’re not fussy about dates or destinations and are looking for something a bit different, our Happy Hour flight offers might be just what you’re after. Happy Hour opens at midday daily until 2pm, and displays a special selection of our cheapest flights from Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Luton. The flights change on a daily basis, so grab them while you can.
  6. Whether you’re planning to book early or late, check our cheap flight offers page regularly and particularly just before you make your booking – there could be an offer to suit you.

Hand on mouse

Where to book

  1. We recommend that you book your flight online – our website offers cheaper fares and lower fees than booking via our call centre.
  2. Comparison sites are a great way to check the base price of a flight. But don’t forget these sites can’t show the real cost of your flight, including booking fees, luggage fees, an inflight meal and so on – so the results can be a little bit misleading as they’re missing this information.
  3. Since most airlines (including ourselves) have unbundled their services like meals and hold baggage from the flight price, it can be tricky to make like-for-like comparisons on prices. One way to compare airlines is to search for a flight on a comparison site. Once you find the airlines that match your price, departure time and airport criteria the closest, you can then go through the booking process on separate tabs to see how the extras add up. It will take longer, but if you have the time you might just avoid hitting hidden extras.
  4. At Monarch, we don’t charge for payment by debit card or Pay Pal and our credit card fee is just £10 per booking, which can help you make a good saving when compared to our competitors.
  5. If you can, try to be flexible with your airports. You may find a cheaper flight from a more distant airport – though it pays to check the cost of travel to and from the airport e.g. public transport vs taxi. If the cost of this is prohibitive, why not take a look at airport parking.
  6. If you’re worried about spending too much on snacks onboard, our tasty, hunger-busting in-flight meals can be purchased online in advance for a very reasonable cost.
  7. Want to save money on luggage? Pack light! Take just what you need for a few days in your carry on bag and put the money you would have spent on luggage costs towards a new wardrobe. You were going to go shopping anyway, right? Of course, you can carry 10kg in your hand luggage for free.
  8. Need some extra baggage but worried about excess charges? You’ll save a significant amount by weighing your bags at home and buying an extra bag online, rather than waiting till you get to the airport.
  9. Are you a frequent flier? Join our Vantage Club for additional time saving and money saving benefits. Collect your points towards a free flight!

And some bonus tips for when you get there…

  1. Unless you’re going to see family or own a second home, chances are you can be quite flexible about where to go. Don’t forget to consider the exchange rate and do some research about the relative cost of food and accommodation where you’re going, to alternative options.
  2. Love to shop in markets? If you can learn some of the local language or bring a phrasebook and you’ll find it much, much easier when it comes to bartering. Even if you don’t know enough to bargain fluently, just a few polite words including please, thank you, how much and I’m sorry, that’s too expensive, will go a long way towards goodwill and hopefully a cheaper price for you.
  3. Make sure you get an international student card before you travel, if you’re eligible, as you can often save between a third to a half of the cost of admission fees into many tourist attractions around the world – not to mention the great savings you can make on your flights as well!
  4. If you’re an OAP and proud of it, make sure the companies providing your travel services are aware of it. There may be discounts available but not necessarily advertised… and it doesn’t hurt to ask!

What are your top tips for finding a cheap flight and saving money on holiday? We’d love to know! Add your ideas to the comments below.

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About the Author:

Catrionna is the social media & content manager for Monarch Airlines and an editor of the Monarch blog. A keen traveller, she loves exploring destinations on the Monarch scheduled network and especially loves Spain and Italy.

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • Booked Xmas flights last January, early as recommended to get the best price, only to find today that the same flights are now £200 cheaper.

  • Sending offers to fly to Cyprus for 46 sterling on the 7th January when I have had to pay 517 euro one way to Manchester for my student son even booking early, is an unfair cheat.

    • Hi Cathryn, I’m sorry to hear that our emails have reached you at an inopportune time. Prices do vary according to demand and seasonality. I hope you’ll find a special offer you can use in a future email.

  • Please please please stop going on about cheap fares, Its time you became a decent airline by being honest, and stop being greedy, lets see you become the first Airline to advertise fares , throughout the year, without all these silly offers which come up every month, Yes the cheapest fares can be had by booking early, the regular customers given decent seating, your computer puts them in bad positions if you dont book a seat, stop the silly extra for this and that, let the people see what they will pay I.E MAN TO MALAGA £100 ALL INCLUSIVE nothing else to pay cut the prices during the school holidays , it doesnt cost the airline any extra to fly in that period or any period, its called making extra profit during that period, So please lets see Monarch become the first to be fair and honest, It will come one way or the other with the E.U and people power

    • Hi Simon, prices vary for a range of factors including demand and seasonality but we do try to remain competitive at the same time. I will pass on your feedback to our commercial team. Thanks for your post.

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