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Flights: The Most Frequently Asked Questions

December 12th, 2019

Read the most frequently asked questions about flights; see the answers, compare quotes and find the best deal to suit you.

How can I find the most suitable flight?

Before you book a flight it is a good idea to consider:

  • Your destination
  • The type of flight you need
  • What services you expect whilst on board
  • The date and time of your flight

You can read more in our beginners’ guide to buying a flight.

What sort of flights are available?

The range may include:

  • Direct flights: a change of plane or airline will not be necessary but an intermediate stop may be made before final touch down.
  • Non-stop flights: you will fly you direct to your destination without any scheduled stops
  • Connecting flights: you will be required to change aircraft or airline at a scheduled stop before reaching your destination
  • Round-the-world flights: you travel around the world with multiple stops en-route
  • Multi-leg flights: you will visit two or more locations during one trip with a stopover at each.

How can I choose the correct airline?

It’s a good idea to think about the most appropriate airline as well as destination and route. Here are some things to consider:

  • Low-cost airlines: this is the cheapest but you will sacrifice many standard flight benefits such as meals and complimentary drinks
  • Charter airlines: you can get flights outside normal schedules that operate on behalf of travel companies
  • Scheduled flights: these operate to published schedules and work through the airline itself or travel agents.

Are you aware…?

  • An airline will usually charge between 5 and 15 different prices for the same seat over its shelf life
  • If you fly late at night or early morning it can mean routes are less crowded.

What main ticket choices do I have?

The usual options are:

  • Standard economy
  • Premium economy
  • Business class
  • First class

When do flight prices change?

When booked in advance, prices will be lower; as the plane fills up prices will rise. Conversely, as the departure date draws nearer, airlines usually lower prices significantly in order to fill empty space.

What is the best time to book a flight?

It is generally thought that exactly 21 days prior to departure is the optimum time to book for the cheapest prices. Individual circumstances will vary, but airlines may count their empty seats and lower prices accordingly within this 3 week window of time.

It is worth noting that it is often mid-week when airlines begin shifting remaining seats for upcoming flights; Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon may be the best times to book.

Is there a time of day when it is cheapest to fly?

Flying late at night or early morning often mean less crowded routes; however, you may pay for this with lengthier airport stays or arriving after, or before, hotel check-in.

During off-peak times, airlines need to maintain a schedule; if you can arrange for your trip to be mid-week, you may get a cheaper, and quieter, flight.

Will stopovers and connecting flights save me money?

Making lengthy stopovers and connections can radically lower your air fares. However, you may waste more time on the travel time or waiting around in an airport when you would otherwise have been on holiday.

If I miss a connecting flight, do I pay, or the airline?

If you miss your connection and are travelling on a through ticket, your airline will be under obligation to secure you a seat on the next available flight; they will also pay for expenses and overnight accommodation.

However, if you book the flights either side of a stopover, individually, the airline has no obligation to pay out. Your travel insurance provider also has no duty to pay out for expenses.

Is it best to pay by credit card?

Credit cards provide you with additional cover if the airline were to go into liquidation under the Consumer Credit Act. However, do remember that you may be charged interest, if your balance is not fully paid off at the end of the month.

Is there any other protection I should have?

Taking out adequate travel insurance cover prior to booking a flight is always wise; check if your policy has scheduled airline failure insurance (Safi) included.

In the event of flight delay you may be entitled to compensation under EU rules.

What are air miles cards?

Air miles cards mean you can collect air or flying miles as you spend; the rewards are to be used either with one specific airline or they can be used in more general travel points schemes, such as Avios.

Should I check-in online before the day of departure?

Lots of airlines offer an online check-in option before the day of your flight which can alleviate the long queues at the airport check-in desk; for some airlines it is a requirement to do so. It is best to check this with your flight provider; there may also be a deadline after which you will not be able to complete an online check-in.

Is there anything else I should think about when booking a flight?

  • Check that your destination airport is close to your holiday destination
  • You many need to arrange travel arrangements from airport to your accommodation
  • Ensure you are familiar with check-in times and baggage limitations
  • Check that prices are inclusive of taxes and charges
  • Contact the airline in advance if you have any special requirements, such as wheelchair access or a special diet
  • With some airlines it may be possible to book your seats prior to your flight.

For answers to any further questions, see our flight guides.

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