Travel unravelled: The trick of knowing when to secure best prices on long and short-haul flights

 

Wednesday 27 June 2012 09:11
Comments

Q. I need to book two flights for travel early in 2013. If I delay booking will they tend to get cheaper or otherwise? One will be long-haul to Abu Dhabi and the other "low cost" to Spain. Sam Doak, East Yorkshire

A. Good question. The answer, which may not look immediately helpful, is: it all depends.

Let's start with the simpler problem: deciding when to book a low-cost flight to Spain. If it is for a school holiday, half-term or a traditional weekend booking (out Friday/back Sunday evening or Monday morning), then you should buy as soon as you are able to commit. For flights in patches of high demand, fares tend relentlessly to increase.

If, though, you plan an off-peak trip, then you can be fairly confident of a good deal much nearer the time. Fares stay fairly low, and may even fall about eight weeks before departure. So start looking a couple of months ahead, and use a search engine such as Skyscanner.net to get the best deal. But don't delay too much: a week or two before departure, fares rise steeply, as the airline seeks to capitalise on passengers who need urgently to travel and are therefore largely insensitive to price.

The flight to Abu Dhabi, a long-haul destination, follows different rules. If you insist on a non-stop flight, on British Airways or Etihad, then you should probably book well in advance. But if you are prepared to change planes, then buying a few weeks in advance should be sufficient. Carriers such as KLM, and Turkish Airlines will take you from one of several UK gateways via their hubs to Abu Dhabi. And if the fares on those airlines don't appeal, compare flights to Dubai – just 90 minutes away by road.

Whatever you decide, bear in mind that you are taking a gamble: fares can fall as well as rise, and airlines have no legal obligation to give you back the difference between what you paid and the cheapest available fare. On any plane you board, there is almost always someone who has paid a lot more than you, and someone else who has paid a little less.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in