No-frills Factor: 10 tips for getting the lowest possible airfares
Basic fares are just the beginning of your spend
Budget airlines have revolutionised travel, but they come with a lot of eyewash and expensive extras. Here are ten tips to seal those deals.
Before you book
1. Be first
Sign up to airline newsletters, Facebook pages and MyRyanair for early sale alerts. These are often snapped up before seeing the light of day elsewhere.
2. Be flexible
If you’re not tied to a date, flick through airline-booking calendars to find cheaper days to fly. You can save big time by flying at periods of low demand.
3. Compare fares
It sounds obvious, but don’t limit yourself to airline websites — use skyscanner.ie and kayak.ie for price comparisons across airlines and months.
Preparing to travel
4. Travel light
Baggage fees can end up costing more than the ‘low-cost’ flight itself. Weigh your bag before travel, leaving room for error (and shopping).
Read our seven expert packing tips here.
5. Get loaded
No, not like that... Before you fly, download Netflix and Spotify faves to avoid boredom and Wi-Fi fees (from €6.95 to €29.95 on Aer Lingus transatlantic flights).
7. Choose your airport
Did you know Newark is closer to Manhattan by train than JFK? Or that a shuttle bus from Stewart International costs just $20?
The obvious airports aren’t always the most convenient. Factor in airport transfer times and costs (at both ends) before clicking 'book now'.
8. Use seatguru.com
Which is the best seat; which is widest; which has the most legroom? Sorted!
At the airport
6. Eat smart
Skip inflight rip-offs by bringing snacks or a packed meal, or eat before boarding.
9. Drink Plane Water
Ryanair and Aer Lingus charge €3 for a 500ml bottle of water on their inflight menus. Dublin and Cork Airports’ Plane Water, by contrast, costs just €1.
You can also save money by bringing an empty water bottle and refilling it after security... this has the added benefit of reducing waste from plastic bottles.
10. Consider the extras
Sometimes, extras are worth the expense. Did you know Dublin Airport offers a fast-track service that allows you to clear security within 10 minutes and get a 10pc discount on shopping? It costs from €5.99–€7.99, or €200 for an annual pass.
You can also buy three hours’ access to executive lounges in Cork, Dublin and Shannon from €20–€27.50. These guarantee you a comfy seat, free drinks, snacks, Wi-Fi and newspapers.
If you have a long wait, or a delayed flight, it’s worth considering — just note that Dublin’s lounges are not available after US pre-clearance.
Read more:Six simple travel hacks that could save you hundreds on flights