independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Flight of the Emigrants

We all have friends and family dotted across the globe, and we all have intentions of paying them a visit . . . just as soon as we pick up a cheap flight. We've searched high and low for the best flight deals on your behalf, so now you have no excuse...

Berlin

To find the cheapest fares, you'll need two important qualities – flexibility and patience. There are some fantastic price comparison websites out there, but you'll need to do a little shopping around as prices still vary.

A good place to start is kayak.ie, which provides a comprehensive search of hundreds of sites and is one of the more user-friendly options. At skyscanner.ie you can search by month rather than specific dates to help you find the best fares. Gohop.ie and cheapflights.ie are also worth checking out. Sign up to airline newsletters and you'll be the first to hear of any upcoming sales or offers.

It goes without saying that to get the best deals you won't want to be flying at peak times such as school holidays, Christmas and high summer. Generally speaking, it's cheapest to fly to most destinations in January, February and November, and it's usually better to travel midweek.

Don't be tempted to book a cheaper flight from, say, London, and arrange your own transfers. If your connecting flight is delayed, your onward journey isn't protected.

When you've found a good fare, scrutinise the details. What might seem like a great deal could include an incredibly long layover. Think about what's more important to you – if spending a little more means one transfer instead of two, it might be worth the extra money.

SYDNEY

In November you can find flights for around €735 return, and the Australian spring makes this a great time to visit. Christmas is a popular (and expensive) time to fly, and these high rates continue into January. Skyscanner.ie found return flights for €736 in November with British Airways/Malaysia Airlines, flying out on the 4th and returning on the 26th, booking with ebookers.ie. On the same dates, budgetair.ie currently has fares for €824 with Etihad, who stop once in Abu Dhabi.

MELBOURNE

Malaysia Airlines comes up trumps for Australian destinations. I found a flight on kayak.ie for €723, booking with ebookers.ie and travelling from November 5 to 19. A single stopover journey with Etihad was coming in at €800, again with ebookers.ie

VANCOUVER

Air Canada repeatedly has the best fares for a Dublin departure, though some pop up with a mind-boggling 33-hour flight time. It's a good idea to sort searches by duration to find a realistic layover. I found flights on kayak.ie for €521 return, for a trip from April 9 to 16 with lastminute.com

SAN FRANCISCO

Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) begins its direct route to San Francisco in April, saving you the hassle of a stopover. Summer fares start at €369 one way, and you can currently find flights in November for around €607 return. You'll pay less for a non-direct route – I found a return fare of €523 with Delta on ebookers.ie from November 12 to 19.

TORONTO

Aer Lingus will also be flying direct to Toronto from April, with fares keeping reasonably steady. The average for a week in May is €477 return, but that increases in July and August. November sees the rates sink back to the €450 mark. From May 2, you can also fly direct with Air Canada. Flights during November are around €390 on ebookers.ie, though you'll have to change in Heathrow on the way back.

DUBAI

Emirates flies directly to Dubai from Dublin daily, with a flight time of 7 hours 30 minutes. If you want to knock around €100 off the fare, Turkish Airlines seems to offer the best rates, but you'll add at least another three hours to your journey time, laying over in Istanbul. Kayak.ie found a flight departing October 8 and returning a week later for €440 with Turkish Airlines, rising to €511 for the non-stop route with Emirates. Book with budgetair.ie

BERLIN

Aer Lingus offers some great rates to Berlin, with a return trip from March 12 to 19 currently costing €120. Prices do rise in the summer, but if you can book far enough in advance you may find a bargain. You can be lucky on Ryanair (ryanair.com) too, though fares escalate quickly – right now if you travel from April 2 to 9, there's a flight for €92.

NEW YORK

You'll always find cheaper fares to New York in the winter (outside of the Christmas period), but do prepare for the icy temperatures. Kayak.ie found direct routes with KLM/Delta from March 11 to 17 for €397 return, bookable with budgetair.ie

NB: All prices are correct at time of going to press, but are subject to change/availability

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