Hidden costs when flying to London? No Thanks. How to save money on flights.
Flying is probably the most popular way to reach London and the UK. Most of the flights get to Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and Southend.
If you are not a frequent traveller, there are 13 golden rules you may find useful in order to get the most out of your flying experience, which doesn’t only mean finding cheap flights to London and the UK.
Golden Rule #1: Use Skyscanner or other comparison sites to book your flight to London or the UK and save money on the airfare
If you want to find the best flight combination at the best rate possible, this can save you hours. This will also teach you that budget airlines are not always the cheapest options. Sometimes, I’ve found better rates and time combinations with airlines like BRITISH AIRWAYS than with EASYJET or RYANAIR. It’s not uncommon for comparison sites to suggest you fly in with one airline company and fly out with a different one.
My personal preference is SKYSCANNER but there other good options available, such as:
If you are travelling from outside Europe, you may find Travelocity and Expedia useful as they include long-haul flights which the other websites can miss.
Rule #2: Beware the cookies. They can cost you money.
The websites you use to book your flight, including those listed above, place cookies on your pc to track you and…surprise, surprise,raising prices when you return to the website to make the purchase. It’s not an urban myth, it really happens. Not always, but it happens,
This is why you should always make sure you delete cookies and remove your browsing history before you return to the website to make the flight booking to London or the UK!
Rule #3: Carefully check the London airport you are going to use to see if there are cheap shuttle buses available.
London in particular has several airports but not all of them are cheaply linked to the capital. You should pay close attention to where you are going to land and/or take off. This is because the journey from and to the airport can weigh quite a lot of the total cost! You could book a cheap flight landing at Southend Airport, only to find out later that London Liverpool Street can be reached only by train, and the train fare may cost you £14.90 for a single ticket (off-peak). £15 pounds for a 45 minutes journey may be quite a lot for those who travel on a budget. This is why, if you care for your money, before booking your flight, you should make sure the London airport you are using is served by a shuttle.
Easybus serves Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Luton airports, and it’s by far the cheapest (and most efficient) shuttle service you can get. A one-way journey can cost you only 2 GBP, depending on the pick-up time and how far in advance you book. The further in advance you book, the more likely you will be to pay a very cheap fair. Buses depart every 15 minutes at peak times and run from 4am until 1am.
More expensive but fast alternatives are:
National Express (bus)
The train shuttle, which includes
- Gatwick Express
- Heathrow Express
- Stansted Express
Rule #4: Book your flight well in advance if you can. Airfares to London and the UK are going to be cheaper.
In order to get the best deals, try to book from six to eight weeks in advance. There’s no such thing as last-minute, cheap flights. Momondo estimates it’s always best to book at least 53 days ahead to find cheap flights to London or any other destination.
Rule #5: Book your flight to London on a Tuesday.
A fundamental trick which will allow you to find a bargain is to book on a Tuesday, possibly in the afternoon. On Mondays, air companies introduce the new rates for the week and try to lower the rates to sell as many seats as possible. Saturday is usually the most expensive day. Avoid!!
Rule #6: Book a flight for early in the morning or late in the evening.
Flights during the central hours of the day are always more expensive. If you can be flexible and can manage travelling very early in the morning or late in the evening, it will save you loads.
Rule #7: Break your journey.
That makes sense above all if you are using medium-haul or long-haul flights to London or whatever the destination. Stopping over is generally cheaper than using direct flights.
Rule #8: If you wish to travel far, cheap and fast, travel light…or at least pretend to.
The saying goes “If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light.” Applied to low-cost air companies, I would amend it to:“If you wish to travel far, fast and cheaply, travel light.. or pretend to.” For some no frills air companies such as Ryanair, you have to pay charges for bags, checking in or even just paying. The final fare for the flight may not be as convenient as anticipated after all. I can propose three solutions according to the scenario:
Scenario no.1: You can travel light.
When I do not need to stow my luggage, I personally use Cabin Max Backpack
which is designed to be lightweight and perfectly sized for the hand luggage restrictions of the most popular budget airlines – such as EasyJet, Ryanair and Monarch.
A particular note must be added. On Easyjet, the company gives restrictions on the size of the hand luggage but no weight limits. On the other hand , it allows you to take one duty-free bag on board, and that’s written in their policy (see Easyjet baggage policy). A duty-free carrier bag can give you some room to manoeuvre when you walk through the departure gate. It will allow you to stuff in the odd item which won’t fit in your hand luggage; so never dump your spare duty-free bag, or make sure you get one when you are at the airport . It can be useful also in case of emergency. Many people board with a carrier-bag they bring with them.
Scenario no.2: You cannot travel light
When I do need to stow my luggage, BA is my lifesaver as the luggage allowance is good compared to the no frills airlines. Still, in order to avoid surcharges, I need to make sure I do not breach the weight limits set by air companies.
If, on the other hand, you do need to use a no-frills air company and you don’t want to pay for the surcharges, that’s the way to do it:
DO NOT wear as many layers as possible like this traveller does. This technique may be common but not that practical, and you could seriously risk fainting. Limit yourself to a few bearable layers.
DO take advantage of jackets with big pockets.
DO use the double-layer jacket technique. Use deep-pocketed, double-layered jackets you do not use that much or that you care little about, tear the pockets open and stuff in it as much as you can without making yourself look conspicuous. As the weight is all on your person and not in the jacket, it doesn’t count.
BAGKET WILL BE A LIFESAVER
With pockets sized for 13″ laptop, ipad, iphone and the rest for all your travelling needs, Bagket IS the answer to airlines’ excess baggage charges.
Alternatively, make do with an old double-layer jacket.
Golden Rule #9: Know how you can trick Easyjet.
If you use the Easyjet website to book your flight to the UK, be aware the company charges £13 in administration fees for each booking. If you are not travelling alone, do a single booking. This will spare you paying the fee multiple times.
Easyjet, in a little-known policy, promises to refund you the difference if the price drops after you book. Keep checking the price and if it does drop, call their customer services immediately on 0330 365 5000, and you’ll be sent a voucher which you can use within 6 months.
Golden rule#10: Bring your own food with you.
This will be good for both your health and your wallet.
On budget airlines, you have to pay for drinks and snacks.
Food served tends to be of low quality and rather disgusting, regardless of whether it’s included in the fare or not…
Golden Rule #11: No-frills air companies and online check-in rules: Pay attention!
If using no-frills companies to fly to or from London, always check if online check-in is needed. Ryanair, for instance, charges up to £140 per person per return. Additionally, you’ll also be charged £15 if you forget to print your boarding pass.
Golden Rule #12: Never exchange your currency into pounds at the airport.
As it happens in all airports, getting travel cash at the airport will involve being lumbered with the worst rates. Always try to avoid this. For more details on the best practices for currency exchange on your trip to the UK, click here!
Golden Rule #13: Don’t forget travel insurance.
Booking a flight without travel insurance is risky. I’ve never flown without it, and it came in handy when the airline company which I used to travel to London damaged my luggage. I was given a full refund of the value I declared at the damaged luggage office of the air company I used within a few months. I know many people just fly without it to save on the cost of the air ticket, however it’s not always a great choice as “airport accidents” to your luggage may happen. Usually travel insurances are convenient if you are planning to fly at least twice a year.