So, you have seen a cheap flight, and it’s really cheap, the adventure is on. However, once you have added the cost of getting to the airport, taking your skis, and a bag, on the flight and then you need a snack and drink, it works out that it wasn’t that cheap after all. Here are 4 tips on how to keep these costs down.
1. Finding a cheap flight and then get it cheaper.
I use this website to search for flights, www.skyscanner.net. It’s easy to see when is the cheapest time to fly and what airports it is cheaper from. It is nearly always cheaper to fly midweek, there are extra taxes on Fridays and weekends. Then, I do NOT book through the site, instead I go direct to the airline’s site and find the flight again there. Doing this saves the commission cost of the search site.
Consider driving, this can be cheaper especially if there are 3 or 4 of you. Work out the cost of driving including tolls, fuel and the channel crossing. I save my Tesco points and get a free return Shuttle crossing each year.
2. Reduce baggage costs.
Booking bags onto a flight can sometimes cost more than the flight itself, so is a major consideration, and is another advantage of driving as the amount of luggage you take has little effect on cost.
To reduce baggage charges when flying, firstly of all, consider what you need to take, can you hire skis in resort? Or, on a longer trip, could you buy a bike and then sell it on afterwards?
So, you have decided what you need to take, now book the baggage when you book the flight, this is cheaper than booking it later, and much cheaper than booking when you check-in.
Booking sports equipment on a flight costs extra, but the luggage doesn’t have to contain only your skis or bike for example, you can pack anything in it as long as it is not over the specified weight. This means that I often travel with just a ski bag and hand luggage. I pack everything I need around my skis, keep it under 20kgs and stuff my hand luggage full; no need for another hold bag as well.
Make sure you read the small print. The ‘sports bag’ option for ski equipment, for example, often allows for one ski bag and one ski boot bag, therefore actually two bags.
I have a spring scale at home to check the weight of any bags.
3. Getting to and from the airport.
Again, this can add considerably to your overall cost. Look at all the transport options, bus, train or drive and airport parking.
If travelling alone my preferred option is the train. To reduce the cost I book the journey in advance using any of the train line websites. I often find that if I search for a train by putting in the departure and arrival stations then the cost is a lot higher than if I split the journey, even if it is exactly the same journey, in the sense of train times and connections. Therefore, work out the journey, train times and connections and then calculate the cost by booking each leg of the journey separately, I bet it will be cheaper, sometimes even half the price!
Check the airport website before booking the journey. Reading the Glasgow Preswick airport website the other day, I found out that you can get a half price train ticket on the train from the airport to anywhere in Scotland when you show confirmation of your flight, and if you are flying on a new route (up to 6 months after flights begun) then your train ticket is free.
Another example is the excellent Rail and Sail deals which I’ve used to get to Dublin for the marathon.
Heathrow is the UK’s largest airport and one of the busiest in the world, however a less advertised fact is that it is also has, per mile, one of the most expensive train journeys in the the world via the Heathrow Express. It amazes me that few people know that there is an alternative train which serves Heathrow passengers, it’s called the Heathrow Connect, and is a normal train service. It stops at a few other stops along the way so takes 5 to 15 mins longer than the Express service but is half the price, or even cheaper if you have a railcard (no railcards can be used on the Heathrow Express).
If there are two or three of you travelling together, then driving and using airport parking may well work out cheaper. There are airport parking comparison websites which can be found online or through the airport site itself.
4. Avoid the little extras, come prepared.
Food and drink is expensive at airports, and on a flight, if flying on a budget airline. Coming prepared with snacks can mean considerable savings.
With current airport procedures not allowing liquids through security it is not possible to take water with you. However, it is possible to take a water bottle. I carry a small water bottle which I empty before going through security and then refill it on the other side. I even do this for long-haul flights as I hate having to keep asking for water on the flight and being given a thimbles worth at a time..
Combine this with some snacks, which are generally no problem taking through security, then you’ve saved yourself loads.