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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday 30th September, 2002

LOW COST FARES

Aircraft

Air travel is cheaper than it's ever been with low cost operators like EasyJet, Ryanair and Go flooding the market with bargain basement flights.

You can now fly to more destinations on low cost airlines than ever before, and the list is growing. Great news for passengers!

Wherever you live, there's an airport offering cheap flights, sometimes as low as £15 for a single journey.

The Midlands is home to more budget airlines than almost anywhere else in the country with thirty European destinations.

A fare deal?

But do low cost flights necessarily mean low fares?

Aircraft
Get off to a flying start

It's possible to pay up to £50 for a one way flight on some of these 'cheap' airlines.

But the real advantage of these flights over traditional airlines is that they can offer many fares very, very cheaply.

So what are the cheapest deals that you can you get?

And what are the pitfalls if you're booking a flight with a low cost operator?

Shopping around

First of all, don't be afraid to shop around on the web or at your travel agent.

bmi baby is one of the new low cost flight operators
Look out for late deals and seasonal reductions.

Very cheap seats are often restricted to off-peak flight times such as midweek or anti-social times.

If you're an early bird or a night owl, this could be ideal.

Booking online can save money as you cut the middle man and travel agents.

Getting a good deal

Don't forget to check out the small print or you could find yourself high and dry.

Check if there's any scheduled stops en route. The word 'direct' only means that you won't have to change planes mid-route.

You could end up on the tarmac at Brussels Airport en route to Spain!

Even short flights can include another stop-off, extending your journey time.

Always check the exact location of your airport. Some operators use smaller airports that aren't in city centres.

This often necessitates extra transfers on buses and taxis which can all add to the price of your journey.

Top cheap flight tips

  1. Watch out for any hidden charges such as airport tax and surcharges.
  2. Book on the internet. It cuts out commission costs from the travel agent.
  3. Check where your airport is located. It could be several miles from the city advertised.
  4. Many cheap tickets will make you pay the full price if you cancel well in advance.
  5. Look out for flight restrictions such as no refunds and no name changes.
  6. Early morning and late night flights can be cheaper.
  7. Always check the quoted prices. Prices may change without warning.
  8. Watch out for credit card surcharges of between
    1%-2%.
  9. Don't expect in flight entertainment! Take a good book.
  10. Take your own food if you fly low budget. Don't expect free food and drinks.

The price is right

We've packed our bags and we're off on a weekend break to Europe this coming week.

We based our prices on a round trip for an adult travelling from Birmingham, Liverpool or Stansted on a weekend getaway to four major European cities.

Here's the results of our quest to find the lowest prices around...

  • Paris - £30 from Birmingham
  • Milan - £94.98 from Stansted
  • Brussels - £32.99 from Stansted
  • Barcelona - £140.90 from Liverpool
  • Berlin - £130 from Stansted

Source: Inside Out web team.
Based on current low prices.

As our flights were late bookings, some were much more expensive than expected.

If you book early, you can bag some bargain basement prices from as low as £30 for a single flight to Nice or £8 for a one way trip to Brussels.

The trick is to do your homework and get the best deals ahead of time. Happy flying!

See also ...

On the rest of the web
Cheap flights
Cheap Online Flights
Easyjet
Buzz
Go
bmibaby
MyTravelLite
Flybe
Ryanair
ABTA
Air Transport Users Council

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