Try it for yourself now:
The midweek hump can hit hard, and it’s tempting to book a little getaway to cheer yourself up. Try to resist the urge: if you book on a Wednesday, you could be paying over the odds.
Looking at last year’s data, we found that travellers who bought their tickets on a Wednesday paid on average 4% more than those who booked on a Sunday. On a £500 flight, that’s £25. While it might not make a huge difference for the cheapest fares (after all, how much lower can a £9.99 flight go?), for group trips or pricey flights, it could be worth the wait.
Conventional wisdom has long held that the cheapest fares are for Tuesday or Wednesday departures. But over the last four years our research has turned the ‘fly midweek’ wisdom on its head.
The cheapest day to depart from the UK is typically a Friday – hooray for the weekend! And the most expensive day to fly from Blighty? Sunday. That’s great news for short-breakers – or those who want to turn five days off work into nine days away.
Flying out on a Friday instead of a Sunday saw an average saving of an impressive 21%. On pricier flights, that could easily pay for an extra night in a hotel – or that new piece of lightweight carry-on luggage you’ve been eyeing up.
You might find it’s cheaper to fly out a day before or after you’d originally planned, which is where our ‘month view’ search tool really comes into its own.
Broaden Your Options
If you’re lucky enough to have a few airports nearby, it’s easy to assume that flight prices will be similar from them all. But different airports have different overheads, and you can save a packet by comparing flight prices.
When we checked, we found that a family of four flying to Tenerife could save over £500 if they switched from London Luton to Stansted. Our data doesn’t give any solid answers as to whether you’ll typically save by booking at a smaller airport or a larger one.
But you can always find out which is cheapest for your flight with this one simple trick – tick the ‘add nearby airports’ option when you search on Skyscanner.net. If you’d like to limit it to specific airports – e.g Heathrow, Gatwick and Southend – then on the search results page, you can untick the airports you don’t want to fly from.
This works for your arrival airport, too, but be careful – if you’re not sure where the airports are and how to get to and from them, do some research before booking. Sometimes the cheaper airport can cost you more in transportation costs, eliminating any savings you might have made on the fare. For example the fixed-fare price for a taxi into the city centre from Rome Fiumicino Airport is €48 (per vehicle, not per passenger), compared to just €30 from Rome Ciampino Airport, so bear this in mind when deciding on which flight to book.
Mix it up
Long gone are the days when it was always cheaper to book a return flight with the same airline. Our research indicates you can frequently save by being disloyal. When we checked flights from London to Gran Canaria in August, we found savings of £76 for a family of four by going out with one airline and back with another.
Doing a comparison of all the flight options on the airlines’ own websites would take hours. But on Skyscanner.net, every search scours all the airlines and brings you the best deal, whether it’s flying out and back with the same airline or mixing it up – or even flying into and out of different airports.
The waiting game
Know where and when you want to travel, but not in a rush to book? You can make savings by setting up a price alert. Simply log into Skyscanner: setting up an account is easy and free, search on the website or in the app, then press the Alarm Bell icon. You’ll then be sent notices when the flight prices increase or decrease.
But what about just holding tight and waiting until the last-minute? Unfortunately, this trick isn’t the tried-and-true method of ye olden days (i.e. the 1990s). Our data indicates that many airlines ramp up prices in in the days before departure.
Jack from Jack’s Flight Club has this advice: “If you need a last-minute flight, and you don’t want to pay over the odds, be flexible with your airline choice. Some of the smaller carriers and those that specialise in package holidays to beach destinations will discount unsold seats as the departure time nears. Use Skyscanner’s Search Everywhere tool to find deals. Choose Whole Month for your travel dates, select ‘direct only’ and hit Search Flights. Then scroll down the list of destinations until you see one with an insanely good deal.”
For example, we found flights from London to Sardinia in May for as little as £38 when we tried this.
Jack continues, “And if you’re not sure where to go, use Skyscanner’s handy Map View feature to find the best-value destinations from your local airport. You can easily set filters to your travel month and for direct or indirect routes. Then it’s simply a matter of scrolling through the map and you’ll see the best value destinations – with some of the best bargains already highlighted for you.”
Best Value Destinations for 2019
New York and Amsterdam were the most popular flight destinations in 2018, but if you fancy going somewhere different we’ve crunched the numbers to find out which places have seen the biggest drop in average flight prices over the past year.
Top 10 Best Value Long-Haul Destinations for 2019
The USA dominates the long-haul routes with the biggest price drops, with Austin, Texas seeing a 28% reduction compared to 2017. Only two non-US destinations made it into the top ten.
|Destination||Price drop %|
|San Francisco, California||11%|
|Buenos Aires, Argentina||9%|
|Los Angeles, California||7%|
|Sao Paulo, Brazil||6%|
Top 10 Best Value European Destinations for 2019
Closer to home, there are some incredible bargains to be had on short-haul routes – especially to Germany, which takes four places in the top ten routes. Frankfurt has had the biggest price drop over the past year, with prices falling by 26% on average. This is closely followed by Cologne with a drop of 23%.
|Destination||Price drop %|
Planning your 2019 adventures? Here’s some inspiration….
Based on Skyscanner flight data from 2015 to 2018, looking at exits from the UK to all destination for the average flight price of return economy adult fare at the point of travel for each day of the week, and at the point of booking for each day of the week. All fares based on live data from Skyscanner website and are subject to change due to availability and price fluctuations.