Aeroplane wing

How to bag the cheapest flights for your next holiday destination

Why pay more than you need to? Try these five tips to make sure you get the best deal

By Charlotte Brouwer, 12 October 2016
How to bag the cheapest flights for your next holiday destination

Thought the best way to get cheap flights was to book last minute? Think again. 

It turns out that the best deals out there are all down to the day and time that you search, and Skyscanner's research has revealed that seven weeks in advance is the best time to book flights from the UK.

Want to find the best deals out there? Make sure you follow these five top tips:

1. Book on a Tuesday afternoon

There is a theory that Tuesday is the best day to go looking for cheap airfares. Quite a few airlines release their last minute weekend deals on a Tuesday, as they tend to start their sales on a Monday evening. By Tuesday afternoon you could be bagging a sweet bargain on your air fare.

2. Buy a one way ticket to your destination (and back)

Not always, but sometimes, buying return flights with one airline can be more expensive than purchasing two one way tickets from different airlines. For example, flying from Edinburgh to Paris with Ryanair on a cheap one way flight and then booking a cheap one way flight home with Easyjet. This method gives you more flexibility, too, as you can come back when you want or even fly home from a different (cheaper) airport.

3. Try the 24-hour rule

Some airlines may offer you a free refund if you cancel more than 24 hours before departure, so watch the price of the flight you’ve just booked using Skyscanner price alerts. If the cost of the flight drops substantially, cancel your original flight and book the new one. This will save you a bit of money, but be wary as some airlines don't offer this and some may charge a cancellation fee if you’re out of the 24 hour window.

4. Sign up for email alerts from your favourite airlines

Although last minute flight deals are hard to find, they do exist if you know where to look. Take the leg work out of finding cheap flights by visiting a few of your favourite airlines and signing up for their newsletters. Your inbox will soon be filling up with news of flash sales, new routes with special introductory rates, and most importantly, low fares on last minute flights.

5. Book seven weeks in advance (for short haul flights)

Finding a great flight deal used to be all about booking at the last minute, as airlines were desperate to get rid of their empty seats. Today there are so many budget airlines and business travellers willing to pay more for flights at the last minute that it’s no longer the case. Skyscanner has found that 7 weeks before you intend to travel is the best time to book for short haul flight (such as the UK to Malaga) whereas you need to look around 18 weeks in advance for long haul destinations.

Taking their top 20 most searched for destinations, here's how many weeks in advance you should be booking those plane seats: 

Malaga: 7 weeks in advance
New York: 18 weeks in advance
Alicante: 5 weeks in advance
Barcelona: 8 weeks in advance
Amsterdam: 15 weeks in advance
Dublin: 12 weeks in advance
Tenerife: 7 weeks in advance
London: 2 weeks in advance
Bangkok: 18 weeks in advance
Palma: 4 weeks in advance
Faro: 5 weeks in advance
Paris: 17 weeks in advance
Dubai: 20 weeks in advance
Orlando: 7 weeks in advance
Ibiza: 9 weeks in advance
Rome: 9 weeks in advance
Berlin: 18 weeks in advance
Madrid: 18 weeks in advance
Edinburgh: 13 weeks in advance

And on a not-so-surprising note, they also found that on average, the cheapest month to travel to these destinations is Janary, while the most expensive is August. 

Anyone else getting the urge to book their next trip?