Save money on flights to your holiday home by booking at the right time

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Save money on flights to your holiday home by booking at the right time

Research by a travel search site has suggested that booking your flights to your holiday home too far in advance may actually be costing you more money than leaving it nearer the time. But it does depend where your overseas bolthole is located...

Skyscanner has revealed that 12.5 million Brits who usually book their summer flights in January may not in fact be getting the best prices.

While many may believe the cheapest fares for summer destinations are offered in January, Skyscanner's analysis of nearly 200 million searches shows that the cheapest flight tickets are in fact typically available five weeks in advance of travel.

However the study also shows that price patterns can vary significantly between scheduled and budget airlines and between short and long haul travel and is therefore very much destination dependent.

For instance, flights to Spain and Portugal are at their cheapest just five weeks prior to departure; while holidaymakers booking flights to USA around four months (21 weeks) before departure stand the best chance of getting the cheapest fares, likely to be more than £120 cheaper than if they book during the week of departure.

Customers looking to book flight to Turkey should be able to find the cheapest prices 13 weeks in advance, while the best prices for flights to neighbouring Greece are more likely to be found just three weeks in advance, and represent a saving of 16 per cent on flights booked with a 16 weeks lead time.

With Italy, Croatia and France the prime time is six weeks, Cyprus it is four weeks.

The Skyscanner research therefore also looked at the average August flight prices across the top ten summer destinations to give British holidaymakers and second home owners a clearer idea of what prices to expect to pay and when a good deal is on offer.

Average prices range from around £150 - £160 to Spain and France, while further afield Turkey and Cyprus flights cost around £250 and the US is almost £800.

Skyscanner's Mary Porter comments, "While we may not be able to guarantee that every person booking on every single route to Spain will definitely get the cheapest price if they book 5 weeks in advance, this robust analysis shows that this is the lead time that gives customers the best chance of getting the cheapest prices."

But it is not just when flights are booked but also how. Here are some simple rules to bear in mind to get the best price:

1. Mix and Match: Fares don't have to be booked as returns, instead you can save money by flying out with one airline and back with another.

2. Be open to flying everywhere: Costs to different destinations can vary significantly depending on the airlines operating that route. If you know when you want to travel but are flexible on destination, running a search to 'everywhere' can help find the countries that offer the best value flights at any time.

3. Compare and contrast: Using a travel comparison site like Skyscanner allows you to compare the widest range of airlines and online travel agents, so you'll be able to see where you can get the best deal.

4. Track prices: Skyscanner offers price alerts on all routes to enable flights to be monitored by email. The Skyscanner app offers widgets for Android, Live Tiles for Windows Phone and "watch" functionality for IoS, all of which allow customers to track the latest price changes on a chosen route.

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