There are pros and cons to booking with a low cost airline. Here's some advice to avoid the pitfalls.

Travel expert, Bob Atkinson from says:

"Savvy travellers know exactly what they are going to be charged for before they make their booking and already know the tricks to avoid paying extra charges. Compare all the options before you book so that you are sure your low cost flight is in fact a true low cost deal".

Travel expert Bob's Top 5 Tips for booking low cost flights:

Calculate the total price for the flight to include all extras

Don't just take the lead fare and assume that this will be your final price. For most airlines you will need to add all applicable taxes and airport fees, bag charges, seating costs, on board food and a charge for the type of card you use to pay. Once these are added on they may inflate your original price far higher than you imagined.

It is always worth checking prices across a range of airlines and those that do include free bags such as British Airways can sometimes be cheaper than the 'low fare' option.

Travel only with hand luggage to avoid checked in bag charges

Luggage can cost as much as £60 per person for a 20 kg bag on a flight to the Canary Islands, so if you can avoid taking bags then you cut your travel costs.

For a family of four you could cut your checked in bags to two or three bags between you, or if in a couple, share just one checked in bag. Pack light and be ruthless with what you take with you, you'll not use most of it anyway.

Know your baggage weight and size limits

Every airline baggage limit is slightly different, just to catch us out. Both hand and hold luggage has strict weight and size limits for nearly all airlines - if you stray over the rules prepare to find a charge slapped on you at the airport. Check your weight and size limits before travelling and if you know you are going to be over the limits then pre-pay the charge online – it is significantly cheaper than at the airport.

Be aware that bags or luggage that is out of the ordinary will attract some kind of charge, from surfboards to violins, children's prams and car seats. Do not assume that items for infants are all free – they vary from airline to airline.

Pay by debit card or free pre-paid/electron card

Credit card charges are a fact of life in travel; however they can add as much as £15 per person to an average booking. Wherever you can, pay by debit card to minimise your charges. Or if possible use a pre-paid card such as Mastercard or Electron which are usually free.

However you will not get protection under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for airline failure if you use a debit card or pre-paid card to pay. And fares under £100 are not covered by credit card protection anyway – so ensure you take out a travel insurance policy that includes end supplier failure.

Avoid buying on board food and drink

Food is marked up by up to 400% and drinks by as much as 800% on high street prices. Take your own food from home and buy drinks at the airport to take on board to get around the limits on liquids at security.

This page was last edited in November 2012.