We reveal the best airline for cheap family summer flights
IF you're out of the country this May bank holiday weekend and haven't booked your flight home yet, be careful who you fly with.
If flying with one of the two main Irish airlines, you've only a one-in-four chance of getting the cheapest flight if you fly Aer Lingus, according to an investigation by the Sunday Independent. Your odds are better with Ryanair where you have a three-in-four chance of getting the cheaper flight.
Our investigation focused on the prices of flights offered by Aer Lingus and Ryanair early last week. We priced eight flights with both airlines for various dates in July. We found that your best bet for the cheapest flight is Ryanair – but not in all cases. Ryanair worked out cheapest for three out of every four flights we examined – while Aer Lingus worked out cheapest for one out of four flights.
When researching the flight prices, we largely focused on airports that both airlines fly in to – Malaga and Lanzarote in Spain, Faro in Portugal, Nice in France, Budapest in Hungary and Britain's Manchester Airport. We also included Paris, where both airlines fly in to different airports: Ryanair to Beauvais, and Aer Lingus to Charles de Gaulle.
Commenting on our research, a spokeswoman for Aer Lingus said: "It is very important when comparing prices between airlines that you take account of the differences in the level of service provided. In the case of Aer Lingus, we aim to offer customers competitive prices together with a high level of customer service."
We were careful to compare similar flights – and extras – for our research. So where exactly does it work out cheaper to fly Ryanair than Aer Lingus – and vice versa?
A WEEK ON THE
COSTA DEL SOL
Family of six with hand luggage flying to Malaga
Best: Aer Lingus at €1,405.68
Avoid: Ryanair at €1,695.97
You and your spouse are planning to fly to Malaga with your four rascals for a week on the Costa del Sol this July. You're hoping to fly out from Dublin Airport on July 9 and return on July 16. You're determined to avoid baggage fees so the entire family will be travelling with hand luggage only.
Aer Lingus quoted €1,405.68 for the family last week, while no-frills Ryanair quoted €1,695.97. That said, the Aer Lingus quote included a discount of €286.20 under a summer promotion run by the airline. However, even if this discount is not included, Aer Lingus still comes out cheaper than Ryanair, at €1,691.88.
TWO WEEKS ON THE COSTA DEL SOL
Family of six with check-in luggage flying to Malaga
Best: Ryanair at €2,497.37
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €2,539.38
You and your family find it impossible to travel light. So you, your spouse and your four children will each be checking in a 20kg bag when you fly to Malaga this July. You like nothing better than a round of golf under the sun – so you'll be checking through one golf bag as well. You want the family to sit together so you will pay for seat reservation if you have to. You plan to fly out of Dublin Airport on July 1 and return on July 15.
Ryanair came out the cheapest in this case, with the total cost of the flights coming to €2,497, including baggage fees, a €100 fee to check in the golf bag, and a charge of €120 to reserve seats for the entire family for the return flight.
The cost of the flights with Aer Lingus came to €2,539.38, including check-in baggage, seat reservation and a €60 fee for the golf bag. The Aer Lingus flights were based on its Plus fare, which includes one check-in baggage of up to 20kg per person and seat selection.
TWO WEEKS ON THE COTE d'AZUR
Family of six flying to Nice with the full works
Best: Aer Lingus at €2,144.15
Avoid: Ryanair at €2,177.49
You've your hopes set on a holiday on the Cote d'Azur this July. You're planning to travel with your spouse and four children, including your one-year-old boy. So in total, six of you will be travelling.
Apart from your one-year-old, you'll each be checking in a 20kg bag of luggage for the flight. However, one of you will also be checking in a second bag of luggage full of nappies and baby essentials for your bundle of joy.
On top of all this, you're bringing a fishing rod, baby seat and guitar. You want the whole family to sit together so need to reserve your seats. You're also bringing a pram – but as neither Aer Lingus nor Ryanair charge you for checking in a pram, you won't have to pay for this. You plan to fly out to Nice from Dublin Airport on July 1 and return on July 15.
Our research found that Aer Lingus was the cheapest to fly with in this case, quoting €2,144.15 last Tuesday. It was slightly more expensive to fly Ryanair, at €2,177.49. Aer Lingus's quote (which was based on its Plus Far) included a discount of €245.75 under a summer promotion run by the airline.
Had this discount not been available, Aer Lingus would have been more expensive than Ryanair for this flight. So if you're planning to travel with a load of kids this summer and you can't travel light, be sure to grab any promotions when they come along.
A WEEK IN LANZAROTE
Best: Ryanair at €2,537.41
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €2,540.28
You are a family of six planning a week in Lanzarote in July. You're planning to fly out from Dublin on July 9 and fly back on July 16.
You'll travel light with hand luggage – so you won't have to pay baggage fees. You're not fussed about sitting beside each other – so you don't need to worry about seat reservation fees.
Ryanair worked out cheapest here, quoting €2,537.41. Aer Lingus wasn't much more expensive though – at €2,540.28.
TWO WEEKS ON THE ALGARVE
Best: Ryanair at €2,483.79
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €2,617.08
You want to soak up the Algarve this July – and so will be flying into Faro with your spouse and four children in a couple of months. You'll each be checking in a 20kg bag for your flights. Your spouse will also be checking in a golf bag.
You plan to fly from Dublin on July 1 and fly back on July 15. You want to reserve your seats so the family can sit together.
Ryanair worked out cheapest here, quoting €2,483.79. Aer Lingus worked out about €134 more expensive, at €2,617.08.
WEEKEND IN PARIS
Best: Ryanair at €364.49
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €406.36
You're planning to pop the question in Paris in the first weekend of July. You and your loved one will fly out from Dublin Airport on July 5 and back on July 8. You'll be travelling light so you won't be checking in any hand luggage.
Ryanair – which flies to Beauvais – worked out cheapest for your romantic weekend in Paris, quoting €364.49 for flights. Aer Lingus charged about €42 more, quoting €406.36 for flights to Charles De Gaulle Airport.
A WEEK IN BUDAPEST
Best: Ryanair at €663.53
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €694.16
You and your partner have been dreaming about doing a cruise on the Danube for many years – and you can think of no better place to do it than Budapest. You both want to spend a week in Budapest this summer, and are planning to fly out from Dublin Airport on July 3 and return on July 10. You'll each be bringing a 20kg bag of luggage.
You'll save yourself about €30 if you fly with Ryanair for this flight, according to our research. Ryanair quoted €663.53 for the flight, while Aer Lingus quoted €694.16.
QUICK HOP TO THE UK
Best: Ryanair at €55.06
Avoid: Aer Lingus at €95.49
You're planning to visit a relative in Manchester in the first weekend of July – flying out from Dublin on July 5 and flying back on July 8. You'll be bringing hand luggage only – so you don't need to worry about baggage fees.
You'll pay almost twice the price if you fly Aer Lingus instead of Ryanair, according to our quotes.
Ryanair quoted €55.06 for the flight last Tuesday, while Aer Lingus quoted €95.49.