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Flights – cheap deals to London

Everyone wants a cheap flight to London – so here are some handy tips on getting a good value flight and a check-list of what you need to remember.

1.       Book early: as soon as you know when you are heading to London, get your flights booked.

2.       Choose the site you book your flights on carefully – and before you start searching make sure you know: (a) your travel dates – and if these are flexible; (b)whether you are only booking a flight – or need a hotel too

Choosing your site

There are different types of flight-booking sites – each of which work in a certain way. ‘Screenscrapers’ are sites that compare prices from lots of different airlines and travel sites – such as Skyscanner or Kayak. You should always try a couple of these sites as they check prices with different airlines. Also useful is Travelsupermarket. These websites make their money by getting a small fee from the airline every time they redirect you to the flight website.

Saving on flight and hotel packages

If you want to book a flight AND Hotel together then Expedia is a useful site, often providing good value packages on hotels and flights and is impressive for its sheer range. Also try Ebookers for more offers and deals.

Also Westendtheatre.com offers a range of theatre AND hotel packages – making your tickets and hotel cheaper when booked together. See our latest hotel and theatre packages here.

“Free” European flights

These are possible if you try and grab promotional flight sales from airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet – although remember that if the sale price doesn’t include taxes and charges this can add a lot to the final price. Sign up to their e-newsletters to get the inside scoop on their sales.

Some websites such as Lastminute.com offer Top Secret Flights where you choose your dates and departure and arrival city, and they tell you the flight length and any stopover details – but not exactly which airports, airline and departure times.  The mysterious nature of all this allows airlines to privately off-load their spare capacity and can result in some good value fares. However, remember that by not getting to choose your arrival airport you could end up at an airport that’s technically where you want to go but not as close as other airport options. In terms of London this is less of an issue as all airports bar Heathrow are a reasonable distance from the centre but good transport links make it easy to get around.

Other tips

  • Don’t take the airline’s travel insurance as it’s invariably more expensive than other alternatives. You often have to UNCHECK a travel insurance option on the flight booking page to avoid paying for this. However, always make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance before your holiday. Essential Travel provide good-value travel insurance, from single trip to annual insurance.
  • Print out your airline confirmation email: you may not be asked for this at the check-in desk but you should always carry it with you.
  • Student or Under 26?: don’t forget that you can often get cheaper fares through youth travel companies such as STA Travel.
  • Parking at the airport: If you are flying into London from within the UK then parking at your departure airport is a necessary evil. But there are ways to make it cheaper by booking your parking in advance. Check out Purple Parking.

Useful London airport websites:

Heathrow airport: www.heathrowairport.com

Gatwick airport: www.gatwickairport.com

London City airport: www.londoncityairport.com

Luton airport: www.london-luton.co.uk

Stansted airport: www.stanstedairport.com

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1 October 2009

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